How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 622

Could you explain the microscopic model of temperature in a gas? — DD, SC
Thermodynamics imposes a severe constraint on the meaning of temperature by observing that when two objects are at the same temperature, no heat flows between them when they touch. That constraint leads to the follow possibility: in a gas composed of independent particles, temperature must be proportional to the average internal kinetic energy per particle. By internal kinetic energy, I mean that we are excluding any kinetic energy associated with the movement of the gas as a whole. And by average per particle, I mean to add up all the internal kinetic energies and divide the sum by the number of particles. With this definition of temperature, two bodies of gas that have the same temperature won't exchange heat when they touch. It turns out to be a good definition of temperature and the one that we use in general.

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