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Conceptual Questions


Discuss why atoms can escape from the exosphere but not the lower parts of the atmosphere of a planet.

Explain why a massive, cool planet is more likely to have a thick atmosphere than is a less-massive, hot planet.

Why does atmospheric pressure decrease with increasing altitude?

Describe what happens to the brightness and color of a blackbody as its temperature increases.

Suppose the temperature of a body is higher than the temperature at which it would be in thermal equilibrium. Describe how and why the temperature of the body will change with time.

A body absorbs 30% of the light that strikes it. What is the albedo of the body? What happens to the light striking the body that isn't absorbed?

One atom has 14 protons and 12 neutrons in its nucleus. Another atom has 12 protons and 12 neutrons. Are these atoms different elements or different isotopes of the same element?

Four helium nuclei are more massive than a single oxygen nucleus. Would energy be released if an oxygen nucleus were broken up into four helium nuclei?

Explain how radioactive dating methods are used to determine the ages of objects.

Why has radioactive heating in the planets declined since the time that the planets formed?

What heat transfer process is likely to be most important in (a) a vacuum, (b) an opaque solid, (c) a geyser?

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