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Physics/A question about cycle


Dear Mr. James,

In a question in an MCQ-based quiz, the correct option for "a cycle consists of a series of processes that" is:

    "eventually return to the first state of the first process"
      AND NOT

    "the series of processes that are continually repeated"

I am a bit confused. Can you please help me with understanding that?


In a cyclical process the system does indeed return to the same initial state. That is the entire point. For example in a typical internal combustion engine there are four steps: compression, power, exhaust, intake. This same series is repeated many times each second but any time the system returns to the same step the conditions of the engine are essentially the same.


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James J. Kovalcin


I am teaching or have taught AP physics B and C [calculus based mechanics & electricity and magnetism] as well as Lab Physics for college bound students. I have a BS in Physics from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Arts in Teaching from same. I have been teaching physics for 34 years. I am constantly updating my skills and have a particular interest in modern physics topics.

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