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Experimental Physics 4a Summer Term 2014

Exercises in Thermodynamics and Soft Matter

Seminar 2
April 25th, 2014

1. Figure 1 (left panel) shows a speed distribution function for nitrogen gas
in thermal equilibrium. Find the temperature, the average, and the root-
mean-square speeds of the molecules. What is the fraction of molecules
having speeds higher than the most probable speed vm ? (2p)


probability density



0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 1100 1200 1300

velocity (m/s)

Figure 1: Distribution of molecular speeds in N2 and Stern experiment.

2. Figure 1 (right panel) shows a horizontal cross-sectional schematics of the

Sterns experiment on the determination of molecular or atomic velocities.
Find velocity of silver atoms evaporating form a silver wire (SW) if: (i) the
whole setup is rotating at an angular frequency ω = 50 rad/s; (ii) the shift
of the position at which the atom beam hits the external cylinder (D’) as
compared to that in the non-rotating device (D) is δ = 4.8 mm; (iii) the
distance R between the silver wire and the external cylinder surface is 10
cm. Compare the result obtained with the average speed < v > calculated
using molecular-kinetic theory (temperature in the experiment was 1880
K). (4p)
3. An insulated cylindrical reservoir of a height H is suspended vertically in
the field of gravity. Find the average potential energy of the molecules in
the reservoir. (2p)
4. Estimate the order of magnitude of the maximum speed for a bullet fired
from a gun. Give your recommendations what would be the best substance
for the gunpowder. (2p)

Lecturer: R. Valiullin Teaching Assistant: D. Schneider