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Hey Ray! Experimenting with latent heat in rubber bands – CBS Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Sometimes, seemingly simple things around the house can turn out to be more complicated and interesting than you think.

Take for example rubber bands or elastic bands as they are known here. These everyday household items have been sitting in garbage drawers and office cupboards for nearly 200 years. They were invented in 1845.

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(Photo Courtesy Ray Petelin)

So what can be so interesting about a rubber band?

Well, hold one under your lip and carefully stretch it. Do you feel anything strange?

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(Photo Courtesy Ray Petelin)

Maybe, it feels warmer.

However, not only do they feel warmer, the rubber bands literally heat up when you stretch them. We can see this in action using a thermal camera. When the rubber band is stretched, it heats up. When you put it back to its resting position, it will cool down.

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(Photo Courtesy Ray Petelin)

This heating and cooling happens because of something called entropy.

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(Photo Courtesy Ray Petelin)

Entropy is a measure of the amount of energy that is not available to do work.

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(Photo Courtesy Ray Petelin)

The polymers, or molecular chains that make up the rubber band, look like a bunch of entangled rubber bands when they’re at rest. This is where they have higher entropy… a higher amount of energy that is not available to operate. This is how they naturally want to be.

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(Photo Courtesy Ray Petelin)

When you stretch them, the polymeric rubber bands stretch into ordered chains because the work is obtained from ordered molecular motion. Since we’re doing the work of stretching the elastic and putting those polymers in order, we’re energizing the elastic. That extra energy makes the molecules move faster, giving off heat.

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(Photo Courtesy Ray Petelin)

Scientifically, the opposite would be true. If you let the polymers or molecules of the rubber band go back to their higher entropy state, they absorb that heat and become cooler, which is what we can see with a thermal camera. and feel it with your skin.

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(Photo Courtesy Ray Petelin)

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You will find us wearing glasses for safety, as we use elastic bands near our faces. Always remember to protect your eyes. Also, always make sure you use a clean rubber band.

https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/03/19/hey-ray-rubber-bands/ Hey Ray! Experimenting with latent heat in rubber bands – CBS Pittsburgh

TaraSubramaniam

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