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Heat and Temperature - Thermal expansion concepts
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Overview         (For age - group : Below 16 )

This animated school science about thermal expansion explains how metals undergo thermal expansion when heated, this has found application in planning for bridges, overhead wire, railway tracks and home applications. The animation contains linear, superficial and volumetric expansion.

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Size (KB) 370 US$    1.50 Rs.118.50
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Duration (hr:min:sec) 0:14:0
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Effects of thermal expansion - animation contains the following :

Why space is provided between rails and bridges ?
Why telegraph & electrical lines are never hung tautly between poles ?
Why a tight glass stopper or a metal screw cap can be opened by heating them ?
Why one end of a steel bridge is not fixed in concrete ?
Why glassware used in kitchen are not made up of thin glasses ?

Explanatory Notes section elaborates on the following :

  • What is thermal expansion ?
  • Why heating leads to thermal expansion ?
  • Does thermal expansion occurs in liquid also ?Does the thermal takes place in gases also ?

thermal expansion - electrical wires are not hung tautly
thermal expansion - gaps are provided between rails
Thermal expansion example 1 - electrical wires are not hung tautly
Thermal expansion example 2 - gaps are provided between rails for expansion
thermal expansion - why one end of a steel bridge is not fixed
Thermal expansion example 4 - glassware are made up of thin glasses
Thermal expansion example 3 - one end of a steel bridge is not fixed to provide for expansion
Thermal expansion example 4 - glassware are made up of thin glasses
Details of the animation/ movie /software

Most substances expand when heated and contract when cooled.
The change in length / area or volume (due to contracting/expanding) is directly related to temperature change. Every linear dimension increases by the same percentage with a change in temperature

Not all materials contract/expand at the same rate; the amount of contraction/expansion varies depending on the material. The coefficient of linear expansion, is a proportionality constant that determines the rate of change in length in different materials when they are heated and cooled.

Applications :
In thermometers, thermal expansion is used for measurement. Liquid expand more than solids. Stained red ethanol has a relatively large coefficient of cubic expansion than glass . Temperature can be measured as it rises through the capillary faster.

-If a lid of a glass jar is tight, holding it under hot water for a short time will make it easier to open. This is because the lid will be struck by the hot water more directly than the glass, and so it will expand sooner. Furthermore, metals generally expand more than glass for the same temperature change.


- If steel bridge expand or contract, it can cause structural damage.
However, steel bridges are often mounted on rollers to prevent this problem.

-Expansion gaps also exist in train tracks.

-Water and steam pipes often have a U-bend in them to allow for thermal expansion.

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