<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
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.

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"} {}


    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.


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"}} {}

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?

(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}} {}

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?

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}} {}

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?

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}} {}

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?

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"}} {}

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?

Questions & Answers

Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Mykayuh Reply
Because I'm writing a report and I would like to be really precise for the references
Gre Reply
where did you find the research and the first image (ECG and Blood pressure synchronized)? Thank you!!
Gre Reply
Practice Key Terms 1

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Physics 101. OpenStax CNX. Jan 07, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11479/1.1
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Physics 101' conversation and receive update notifications?