What is an Isolated System?
An isolated system is a physical system that neither exchanges matter nor energy with its surroundings. In other words, an isolated system is a closed system that is completely cut off from the external environment. The concept of an isolated system is central to classical thermodynamics, where it is used to describe the behavior of physical systems that are idealized as being completely self-contained.
Types of Isolated Systems
There are two main types of isolated systems: isolated thermodynamic systems and isolated mechanical systems. Isolated thermodynamic systems are characterized by their inability to exchange heat with the surroundings. They may, however, exchange work with the surroundings. Isolated mechanical systems, on the other hand, are characterized by their inability to exchange mechanical energy with the surroundings. They may, however, exchange heat with the surroundings.
Examples of Isolated Systems
Examples of isolated systems include a thermos flask, a sealed container of gas, an insulated room, and a planet. In a thermos flask, the contents are completely isolated from the outside environment, preventing heat from being lost or gained. In a sealed container of gas, the gas molecules are confined to the container and cannot exchange energy or matter with the surroundings. An insulated room is an example of an isolated mechanical system, where the walls do not allow the transfer of mechanical energy. A planet can be considered an isolated system for practical purposes, as it exchanges negligible amounts of matter or energy with the rest of the universe.
Benefits and Limitations of Isolated Systems
The main benefit of isolated systems is that they allow for precise control and measurement of the behavior of the system, as it is not influenced by external factors. This is important in scientific experiments and engineering applications. However, the limitations of isolated systems lie in their idealized nature, as real-world systems are never truly isolated. There will always be some degree of interaction with the surroundings, which can affect the behavior of the system. Additionally, it is often difficult or impossible to create truly isolated systems in practice.