Latent and Sensible Heat

Discuss word origins and meanings.
Post Reply

Latent and Sensible Heat

Post by hsargent » Wed Dec 11, 2013 2:28 am

Thinking back to my past life in engineering, I wondered how the terms Latent and Sensible heat were chosen.

Latent is the energy to change states.

Sensible is the energy to change the temperature of a material.

Latent heat is a much larger quantity than sensible heat.

la·tent
adjective \ˈlā-tənt\

—used to describe something (such as a disease) that exists but is not active or cannot be seen.

sen·si·ble
adjective \ˈsen(t)-sə-bəl\

: having or showing good sense or judgment.
Post actions:
Signature: Harry Sargent

Re: Latent and Sensible Heat

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Dec 11, 2013 4:37 am

As far as the derivation of the term 'latent heat' is concerned, I can't improve on Wikipedia's introductory description:
Latent heat is the energy released or absorbed by a body or a thermodynamic system during a constant-temperature process. A typical example is a change of state of matter, meaning a phase transition such as the melting of ice or the boiling of water.
The latent descriptor refers to the fact that the temperature of the material in question remains the same even when its heat content increases or decreases. The change in its heat content is latent in the sense that it is not readily perceived.

Even so, gay activists in the 1970s promoted the following lapel-button message:

Image

Also from Wikipedia:
Sensible heat is heat exchanged by a body or thermodynamic system that has as its sole effect a change of temperature.
The adjective sensible actually has a handful of different meanings. The most relevant one in this context is 'readily perceived by the senses'.

By contrast with systems involving the phenomenon of latent heat, those involving sensible heat produce a detectable (= sensible) alteration in the material affected: specifically, a temperature change.
Post actions:
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Re: Latent and Sensible Heat

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:36 pm

Posting pictures is just showing off Erik.
Post actions:
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: Latent and Sensible Heat

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:53 pm

Guilty, m'lud.
Post actions:

Re: Latent and Sensible Heat

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:22 pm

Tee-hee!
Post actions:
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

End of topic.
Post Reply