Last Saturday we went to a fantastic concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. It featured the pianist Michel Camilo playing the UK premier of one of his own compositions, Piano Concert No. 2 ‘Tenerife’ and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He was fabulous – there are a couple clips on YouTube of him playing Rhapsody in Blue so you can some idea of what we experienced on Saturday evening. I cannot play the piano and so his virtuosity was all the more impressive to me. The applause at the end was ecstatic and followed by an even more spectacular encore, Caribe.
As we applauded for what seemed like a couple of minutes, I was reminded of an example that I had worked through in class last term for my first year undergraduate course in Thermodynamics. The worked example is attached and involves estimating the temperature rise in palms of your hands as a consequence of vigorously clapping during which kinetic energy is converted into internal energy in the flesh of your palms and causes the temperature rise, ignoring the energy converted into sound. The emphasis was on estimating by creating a model using a set of identified assumptions and, once we had an answer, I discussed the influence of those assumptions and introduced the idea of sensitivity analysis – this is not included in the worked example attached.
For twenty enthusiastic claps we found a temperature rise of a quarter of a degree Celsius, which we would probably notice since the hairless skin on the palm at the base of thumb is sensitive to changes as small as a twentieth of a degree, according to Dr Lynette Jones of MIT [doi:10.4249/scholarpedia.7955].