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The Kinetic Molecular Theory

The experimental observations about
the behavior of gases discussed so far
can be explained with a simple
theoretical model known as the
kinetic molecular theory. This
theory is based on the following
postulates, or assumptions.
1. Gases are composed of a large
number of particles that behave
like hard, spherical objects in a
state of constant, random motion.
2. These particles move in a
straight line until they collide with
another particle or the walls of the
3. These particles are much
smaller than the distance between
particles. Most of the volume of a
gas is therefore empty space.
4. There is no force of attraction
between gas particles or between
the particles and the walls of the
5. Collisions between gas
particles or collisions with the
walls of the container are
perfectly elastic. None of the
energy of a gas particle is lost
when it collides with another
particle or with the walls of the
6. The average kinetic energy of a
collection of gas particles depends
on the temperature of the gas and
nothing else.
The assumptions behind the kinetic
molecular theory can be illustrated
with the apparatus shown in the
figure below, which consists of a
glass plate surrounded by walls
mounted on top of three vibrating
motors. A handful of steel ball
bearings are placed on top of the
glass plate to represent the gas

Practice Problem 3:
Calculate the pressure in atmospheres
in a motorcycle engine at the end of
the compression stroke. Assume that
at the start of the stroke, the pressure
of the mixture of gasoline and air in
the cylinder is 745.8 mm Hg and the
volume of each cylinder is 246.8 mL.
Assume that the volume of the
cylinder is 24.2 mL at the end of the
compression stroke.
Click here to check your answer to
Practice Problem 3.
Click here to see a solution to
Practice Problem 3.

Amonton's Law
Toward the end of the 1600s, the
French physicist Guillaume
Amontons built a thermometer based
on the fact that the pressure of a gas
is directly proportional to its
temperature. The relationship
between the pressure and the
temperature of a gas is therefore
known as Amontons' law.
Amontons' law explains why car
manufacturers recommend adjusting
the pressure of your tires before you
start on a trip. The flexing of the tire
as you drive inevitably raises the
temperature of the air in the tire.
When this happens, the pressure of
the gas inside the tires increases.
Amontons' law can be demonstrated with the apparatus shown in the figure below,
which consists of a pressure gauge connected to a metal sphere of constant volume,
which is immersed in solutions that have different temperatures.

The apparatus for

demonstrating Amonton's
law consists of .
The following data were obtained
with this apparatus.
In 1779 Joseph Lambert proposed a
definition for absolute zero on the
temperature scale that was based on
the straight-line relationship between
the temperature and pressure of a gas
shown in the figure above.
He defined absolute zero as the
temperature at which the pressure of
a gas becomes zero when a plot of
pressure versus temperature for a gas
is extrapolated. The pressure of a gas
approaches zero when the
temperature is about -270°C. When
more accurate measurements are
made, the pressure of a gas
extrapolates to zero when the
temperature is -273.15°C. Absolute
zero on the Celsius scale is
therefore -273.15°C.
The relationship between temperature
and pressure can be greatly
simplified by converting the
temperatures from the Celsius to the
Kelvin scale.
TK = ToC + 273.15