Saturday, May 26, 2012

How Cold is the Ground II

Images from Wikipedia

Last week (ok, it was a little more than a few days ago....) I used dimensional analysis to figure out how the ground's temperature changes with time. But although dimensional analysis can give us information about the length scales in the problem, it doesn't tell us what the solution looks like. From dimensional analysis, we don't even know what the solution does at large times and distances. (Although we can usually see the asymptotic behavior directly from the equation.) So let's go ahead and solve the the heat equation exactly:
\frac {\partial T}{\partial t} = a \frac {\partial ^2 T}{\partial x^2} \quad (1)

Friday, May 18, 2012

How Cold is the Ground?

It snowed in Ithaca a few weeks ago. Which sucked. But fortunately, it had been warm for the previous few days, and the ground was still warm so the snow melted fast. Aside from letting me enjoy the absurd arguments against global warming that snow in April birthed, this got me thinking: How cold is the ground throughout the year? At night vs. during the day? And the corollary: How cold is my basement? If I dig a deeper basement, can I save on heating and cooling? (I'm very cheap.)