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The Kinetic Theory of Gases

  • Kerry Kuehn
Chapter
Part of the Undergraduate Lecture Notes in Physics book series (ULNP)

Abstract

James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is the chief architect of the electromagnetic theory of light.1 Maxwell also played a significant role in the development of both thermodynamics and the kinetic theory of gases. Regarding the former topic (thermodynamics), Maxwell derived a set of four equations that relate changes in the thermodynamic variables of a substance.

Maxwell’s four thermodynamic relations are completely general in that they apply to any substance whatsoever.

Regarding the latter topic (the kinetic theory of gases) Maxwell argued that the macroscopic properties of a gas, like its pressure and temperature, may be understood in terms of the velocities of the molecules comprising the gas. The kinetic theory also provides a key to understanding phenomena such as the conduction of heat through iron, the viscosity of honey, and the diffusion of pollen through air. In the reading selection that follows, taken from his Theory of Heat, Maxwell provides an introduction to the kinetic theory of gases.

Keywords

Potential Energy Free Path Kinetic Theory Helium Atom Average Kinetic Energy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wisconsin Lutheran CollegeMilwaukeeUSA

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