Lecture 03: Energy, Life and Transformations: Suggested Exam Questions

Q: According to the first law of thermodynamics energy is neither created nor destroyed. If this is so, why can't we just re-use and recycle energy?

Potential exam question #1:

Explain why global vegetarianism would lead to more efficient land-use, using the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Potential exam question #2:

A. Explain the phrase: "The chemicals of life are reduced".

B. We think that early Earth had a reducing environment, in contrast to the oxidizing environment that we have now. How could this have affected the ways in which living organisms stored their chemical energy?

Potential exam question #3:

One of your classmates has another of her newest and greatest ideas. She tells you, "I've got a solution for renewable power generation from the ocean." She hands you a sheet of paper with a schematic on it. Her idea involves a very tall apparatus that will sit inside the ocean astride layers of water at different temperatures. "That's ridiculous," a friend of hers comments. "The 2nd law of thermodynamics says you can't run a boat off of the heat in the ocean, so you wouldn't be able to generate power either." Is this idea unworkable on those grounds or not? Why?

Potential exam question #4:

Describe the relationship between light intensity and primary production.

Potential exam question #5:

Why do living things require a continuous flow of energy? Touch on the concepts of the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics and entropy in your response.

Potential Exam question #6

Explain the processes that heat the atmosphere.

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