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Photograph of the lunar rover on the Moon. The photo looks like it was taken at night with a powerful spotlight shining on the rover from the left: light reflects off the rover, the astronaut, and the Moon’s surface, but the sky is black. The shadow of the rover is very sharp.
This photograph of Apollo 17 Commander Eugene Cernan driving the lunar rover on the Moon in 1972 looks as though it was taken at night with a large spotlight. In fact, the light is coming from the Sun. Because the acceleration due to gravity on the Moon is so low (about 1/6 that of Earth), the Moon’s escape velocity is much smaller. As a result, gas molecules escape very easily from the Moon, leaving it with virtually no atmosphere. Even during the daytime, the sky is black because there is no gas to scatter sunlight. (credit: Harrison H. Schmitt/NASA)

If you consider a very small object such as a grain of pollen, in a gas, then the number of atoms and molecules striking its surface would also be relatively small. Would the grain of pollen experience any fluctuations in pressure due to statistical fluctuations in the number of gas atoms and molecules striking it in a given amount of time?

Yes. Such fluctuations actually occur for a body of any size in a gas, but since the numbers of atoms and molecules are immense for macroscopic bodies, the fluctuations are a tiny percentage of the number of collisions, and the averages spoken of in this section vary imperceptibly. Roughly speaking the fluctuations are proportional to the inverse square root of the number of collisions, so for small bodies they can become significant. This was actually observed in the 19th century for pollen grains in water, and is known as the Brownian effect.

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Phet explorations: gas properties

Pump gas molecules into a box and see what happens as you change the volume, add or remove heat, change gravity, and more. Measure the temperature and pressure, and discover how the properties of the gas vary in relation to each other.

Gas Properties

Section summary

  • Kinetic theory is the atomistic description of gases as well as liquids and solids.
  • Kinetic theory models the properties of matter in terms of continuous random motion of atoms and molecules.
  • The ideal gas law can also be expressed as
    PV = 1 3 Nm v 2 ¯ , size 12{ ital "PV"= { {1} over {3} } ital "Nm" {overline {v rSup { size 8{2} } }} ,} {}
    where P size 12{P} {} is the pressure (average force per unit area), V size 12{V} {} is the volume of gas in the container, N size 12{N} {} is the number of molecules in the container, m size 12{m} {} is the mass of a molecule, and v 2 ¯ size 12{ {overline {v rSup { size 8{2} } }} } {} is the average of the molecular speed squared.
  • Thermal energy is defined to be the average translational kinetic energy KE ¯ size 12{ {overline {"KE"}} } {} of an atom or molecule.
  • The temperature of gases is proportional to the average translational kinetic energy of atoms and molecules.
    KE ¯ = 1 2 m v 2 ¯ = 3 2 kT size 12{ {overline {"KE"}} = { {1} over {2} } m {overline {v rSup { size 8{2} } }} = { {3} over {2} } ital "kT"} {}

    or

    v 2 ¯ = v rms = 3 kT m . size 12{ sqrt { {overline {v rSup { size 8{2} } }} } =v rSub { size 8{"rms"} } = sqrt { { {3 ital "kT"} over {m} } } "." } {}
  • The motion of individual molecules in a gas is random in magnitude and direction. However, a gas of many molecules has a predictable distribution of molecular speeds, known as the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution .

Conceptual questions

How is momentum related to the pressure exerted by a gas? Explain on the atomic and molecular level, considering the behavior of atoms and molecules.

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Problems&Exercises

Some incandescent light bulbs are filled with argon gas. What is v rms size 12{v rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} for argon atoms near the filament, assuming their temperature is 2500 K?

1 . 25 × 10 3 m/s size 12{ size 11{1 "." "25" times "10" rSup { size 8{3} } `"m/s"}} {}

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Average atomic and molecular speeds ( v rms ) size 12{ \( v rSub { size 8{"rms"} } \) } {} are large, even at low temperatures. What is v rms size 12{v rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} for helium atoms at 5.00 K, just one degree above helium’s liquefaction temperature?

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(a) What is the average kinetic energy in joules of hydrogen atoms on the 5500 º C size 12{"5500"°C} {} surface of the Sun? (b) What is the average kinetic energy of helium atoms in a region of the solar corona where the temperature is 6 . 00 × 10 5 K size 12{6 "." "00"´"10" rSup { size 8{5} } " K"} {} ?

(a) 1 . 20 × 10 19 J size 12{ size 11{1 "." "20" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - "19"} } `J}} {}

(b) 1 . 24 × 10 17 J size 12{ size 11{1 "." "24" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - "17"} } `J}} {}

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The escape velocity of any object from Earth is 11.2 km/s. (a) Express this speed in m/s and km/h. (b) At what temperature would oxygen molecules (molecular mass is equal to 32.0 g/mol) have an average velocity v rms size 12{v rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} equal to Earth’s escape velocity of 11.1 km/s?

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The escape velocity from the Moon is much smaller than from Earth and is only 2.38 km/s. At what temperature would hydrogen molecules (molecular mass is equal to 2.016 g/mol) have an average velocity v rms size 12{v rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} equal to the Moon’s escape velocity?

458 K size 12{ size 11{"458"`K}} {}

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Nuclear fusion, the energy source of the Sun, hydrogen bombs, and fusion reactors, occurs much more readily when the average kinetic energy of the atoms is high—that is, at high temperatures. Suppose you want the atoms in your fusion experiment to have average kinetic energies of 6 . 40 × 10 14 J size 12{6 "." "40"´"10" rSup { size 8{ +- "14"} } " J"} {} . What temperature is needed?

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Suppose that the average velocity ( v rms ) size 12{ \( v rSub { size 8{"rms"} } \) } {} of carbon dioxide molecules (molecular mass is equal to 44.0 g/mol) in a flame is found to be 1 . 05 × 10 5 m/s size 12{1 "." "05"´"10" rSup { size 8{5} } " m/s"} {} . What temperature does this represent?

1 . 95 × 10 7 K size 12{ size 11{1 "." "95" times "10" rSup { size 8{7} } `K}} {}

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Hydrogen molecules (molecular mass is equal to 2.016 g/mol) have an average velocity v rms size 12{v rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} equal to 193 m/s. What is the temperature?

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Much of the gas near the Sun is atomic hydrogen. Its temperature would have to be 1 . 5 × 10 7 K size 12{1 "." 5´"10" rSup { size 8{7} } " K"} {} for the average velocity v rms size 12{v rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} to equal the escape velocity from the Sun. What is that velocity?

6 . 09 × 10 5 m/s size 12{ size 11{6 "." "09" times "10" rSup { size 8{5} } `"m/s"}} {}

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There are two important isotopes of uranium— 235 U size 12{ {} rSup { size 8{"235"} } U} {} and 238 U size 12{ {} rSup { size 8{"238"} } U} {} ; these isotopes are nearly identical chemically but have different atomic masses. Only 235 U size 12{ {} rSup { size 8{"235"} } U} {} is very useful in nuclear reactors. One of the techniques for separating them (gas diffusion) is based on the different average velocities v rms size 12{v rSub { size 8{"rms"} } } {} of uranium hexafluoride gas, UF 6 size 12{"UF" rSub { size 8{6} } } {} . (a) The molecular masses for 235 U size 12{ {} rSup { size 8{"235"} } U} {} UF 6 size 12{"UF" rSub { size 8{6} } } {} and 238 U size 12{ {} rSup { size 8{"238"} } U} {} UF 6 size 12{"UF" rSub { size 8{6} } } {} are 349.0 g/mol and 352.0 g/mol, respectively. What is the ratio of their average velocities? (b) At what temperature would their average velocities differ by 1.00 m/s? (c) Do your answers in this problem imply that this technique may be difficult?

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Questions & Answers

how.an.equipotential.line is two dimension and equipotential surface is three dimension ?
syed Reply
definition of mass of conversion
umezurike Reply
Force equals mass time acceleration. Weight is a force and it can replace force in the equation. The acceleration would be gravity, which is an acceleration. To change from weight to mass divide by gravity (9.8 m/s^2).
Marisa
how many subject is in physics
Adeshina Reply
the write question should be " How many Topics are in O- Level Physics, or other branches of physics.
effiom
how many topic are in physics
Praise
Praise what level are you
yusuf
If u are doing a levels in your first year you do AS topics therefore you do 5 big topic i.e particles radiation, waves and optics, mechanics,materials, electricity. After that you do A level topics like Specific Harmonic motion circular motion astrophysics depends really
Anya
Yeah basics of physics prin8
yusuf
Heat nd Co for a level
yusuf
yh I need someone to explain something im tryna solve . I'll send the question if u down for it
Tamdy Reply
a ripple tank experiment a vibrating plane is used to generate wrinkles in the water .if the distance between two successive point is 3.5cm and the wave travel a distance of 31.5cm find the frequency of the vibration
Tamdy
the range of objects and phenomena studied in physics is
Bethel Reply
what is Linear motion
Hamza Reply
straight line motion is called linear motion
then what
Amera
linear motion is a motion in a line, be it in a straight line or in a non straight line. It is the rate of change of distance.
Saeedul
Hi
aliyu
your are wrong Saeedul
Richard
Linear motion is a one-dimensional motion along a straight line, and can therefore be described mathematically using only one spatial dimension
Jason
is a one-dimensional motion along a straight line, and can therefore be described mathematically using only one spatial dimensions. 
Praise
what is a classical electrodynamics?
Marga
what is dynamics
Marga
dynamic is the force that stimulates change or progress within the system or process
Oze
what is the formula to calculate wavelength of the incident light
David Reply
if a spring is is stiffness of 950nm-1 what work will be done in extending the spring by 60mmp
Hassan Reply
State the forms of energy
Samzy Reply
machanical
Ridwan
Word : Mechanical wave Definition : The waves, which need a material medium for their propagation, e.g., Sound waves. \n\nOther Definition: The waves, which need a material medium for their propagation, are called mechanical waves. Mechanical waves are also called elastic waves. Sound waves, water waves are examples of mechanical waves.t Definition: wave consisting of periodic motion of matter; e.g. sound wave or water wave as opposed to electromagnetic wave.h
Clement Reply
correct
Akinpelu
what is mechanical wave
Akinpelu Reply
a wave which require material medium for its propagation
syed
The S.I unit for power is what?
Samuel Reply
watt
Okoli
Am I correct
Okoli
it can be in kilowatt, megawatt and so
Femi
yes
Femi
correct
Jaheim
kW
Akinpelu
OK that's right
Samuel
SI.unit of power is.watt=j/c.but kw.and Mw are bigger.umots
syed
What is physics
aish Reply
study of matter and its nature
Akinpelu
The word physics comes from a Greek word Physicos which means Nature.The Knowledge of Nature. It is branch of science which deals with the matter and energy and interaction between them.
Uniform
why in circular motion, a tangential acceleration can change the magnitude of the velocity but not its direction
Syafiqah Reply
reasonable
Femi
because it is balanced by the inward acceleration otherwise known as centripetal acceleration
MUSTAPHA
What is a wave
Mutuma Reply
Tramsmission of energy through a media
Mateo
is the disturbance that carry materials as propagation from one medium to another
Akinpelu
mistakes thanks
Akinpelu
Practice Key Terms 1

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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