Kinetic Theory

Brownian Motion of Latex Spheres

“Under the microscope one, to some extent, immediately sees a part of thermal energy in the form of mechanical energy of the moving particles.” —A. Einstein 1915

What it Shows

Tiny latex spheres in water, viewed under a microscope, undergo a kind of random jiggling motion called Brownian motion—named after the botanist Robert Brown, who observed this kind of motion in 1827 when looking at tiny pollen grains. The spheres are all 1.054 micron in diameter. Each particle can be seen...

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Collapse of 55 Gallon Drum

Drum evacuated by vacuum pump; crushed by atmospheric bombardment.

What it shows:

With an air pressure of 105 Nm-2 at sea level, even a heavy duty oil drum will be crushed if it has nothing inside to balance the pressure.

How it works:

The screw cap on the drum is fitted with a vacuum pump connector. Simply turn on the pump and wait; it takes about 8 minutes to pump down, so you can carry on with what you were doing interrupted by various creaks and bangs as the drum's side walls begin to give....

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Brownian Motion of Smoke Particles

Smoke cell under microscope; smoke particles seen bombarded by air molecules.

What it Shows

Brownian motion shows direct evidence of the incessant motion of matter due to thermal energy. Here we use the random bombardment of smoke particles by air molecules.

How it Works

The CENCO Brownian Movement Apparatus consists of a metal chamber with a glass viewing window on top and a lens on one side (see figure 1). Smoke from a piece of smoldering rope or match is drawn into the chamber through an inlet tube by squeezing the rubber bulb....

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OHP Kinetic Theory Model

Simulation of molecular motion (Brownian, diffusion, etc.) with ball bearings on shaking table.

What it shows:

Two dimensional simulations of molecular dynamics and crystal structure using ball bearings. It can be used to show qualitatively the dynamics of liquids and gases, and illustrate crystalline forms and dislocations.

How it works:

The molecular dynamics simulator is more commonly known as a shaking table. It consists primarily of a circular shallow walled glass table that is oscillated vertically so as to vibrate and...

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Change of Volume with State

CO2 and He balloons in liquid nitrogen.

What it shows:

Cooling a gas causes a proportional decrease in volume with the drop in absolute temperature. A gas such as helium, which remains close to ideal at low temperatures, shows a four-fold decrease in volume when taken from room temperature 330K to liquid nitrogen temperature, 77K. Carbon dioxide however, sublimes at 194.5K, so is solid at 77K. Oxygen liquefies at 90K (S.T.P.). A qualitative demonstration of these effects can be shown with gas filled balloons.

How it works:...

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Magdeburg Hemispheres

When evacuated, held together by bombardment of atmospheric molecules.

What it shows:

Two brass hemispheres are brought together and evacuated, and are held together by the pressure of the atmosphere.

How it works:

Two brass hemispheres fit together to form an air-tight seal. One has a vacuum pump attachment and stop cock; the completed sphere can evacuated using a vacuum pump under a minute. As atmospheric pressure is 105Nm-2, the 11cm diameter hemispheres are held together by a force of 15000N. Invite members of your...

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Golf Ball Atmosphere

A model of molecular motion and pressure using practice golf balls.

What it shows:

The kinetic energy of gas molecules bouncing off a surface causes pressure.

Increasing the molecules' speeds increases the pressure and the volume of the gas.


How it works:

Plastic practice golf balls represent...

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