Support materials only that illustrate some possible contexts for exploring Science as a Human Endeavour concepts in relation to Science Understanding content.
The science of heating processes is of key importance to predicting future energy needs and the best mix of energy sources to meet these needs (ACSPH015). Sustainable energy production will require renewable energy sources that can be used alongside current power generation methods. Development of efficient and cost-effective methods for harnessing renewable energy sources such as solar and geothermal energy is dependent upon understanding of heating processes and energy transfers and transformations (ACSPH015). It has been difficult to predict future energy usage accurately. The complexity of the problem is compounded by factors including the emergence of new energy sources, improvements in the efficiency of existing energy sources, improved scientific understanding, changes in demand and social, economic and political pressures (ACSPH012).
Circulation of energy in the atmosphere and oceans evens out solar heating imbalances on the planet’s surface, resulting in a more uniform temperature distribution. Increases in incoming or outgoing energy disturb Earth’s radiative equilibrium and affect global temperatures. Predictions of human-induced climate change and the possible effects of such change rely heavily on the science of heating processes (ACSPH014). Predictions are refined and improved as new data becomes available and scientific understanding improves, but the complexity and number of the assumptions involved prevents scientists from providing absolutely definite answers (ACSPH014). New technologies are being developed to address both the cause of human-induced climate change and the consequent effects on the natural and built environment (ACSPH011).
The development of thermodynamic theory arose from a need to increase the efficiency of early steam engines, and led to important technological developments including the internal combustion engine, cryogenics and electricity generation. The development of the steam engine through the Savery and Watt engines led to important advances in the understanding of heat processes, energy transfer and transformation, and how heating can be used to do mechanical work (ACSPH010). Pioneers in this field, such as Joseph Black, Lavoisier and James Joule, produced quantitative, reproducible experiments that increased understanding of thermodynamics (ACSPH009). Other scientists, including Rankine, Kelvin, Maxwell and Gibbs, built further on this work, leading to the development of important laws and theories such as the gas laws, the laws of thermodynamics, and concepts such as heat capacity and latent heat (ACSPH010).