Sometimes I wonder about interesting things, such as how much energy would it take to boil all the water of Lake Washington:

- The volume of Lake Washington is 2.89 km
^{3}^{1} - The average lake temperature is 9.71°C
^{2} - It takes 4.19 Joules to raise the temperature of 1g of water by 1°C:
^{3} - The density of water is

Putting all that together, we get:

For comparison, the energy that hits Earth from the Sun in one second: ^{4}

~~Basically, if we could focus all the energy from the sun that hits the earth, it would take… …to vaporize Lake Washington~~^{5}.

~~This is a vast oversimplification of the forces and energies involved, but I think it’s still a pretty good estimate.~~

Update: Apparently I missed one critical element, enthalpy/heat of vaporization ^{6}. “This energy breaks down the intermolecular attractive forces, and also must provide the energy necessary to expand the gas (the PΔV work). For an ideal gas , there is no longer any potential energy associated with intermolecular forces. So the internal energy is entirely in the molecular kinetic energy.”^{7}

What we have above is the energy required to bring it up to 100°C, but not to vaporize it. To actually vaporize water that’s already at 100°C, we need to add an additional ^{8}

Running this number back through our calculations, we now get:

This is still within one order of magnitude from my original answer and really only takes slightly longer for the sun to actually vaporize Lake Washington ^{9}.

http://wldb.ilec.or.jp/Lake.asp?LakeID=NAM-09&RoutePrm=0:;14:load;14:load; ↩

Average of all temperature data for 2011 for the Lake Washington buoy: http://green.kingcounty.gov/lake-buoy/Data.aspx ↩

ROM estimate ↩

this is why I’m not a chemist ↩

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/thermo/phase2.html#c3 ↩

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/thermo/phase.html ↩

still a ROM estimate ↩