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The Ideal Gas Law - Introduction

Author: John Hutchinson

We assume as our starting point the atomic molecular theory. That is, we assume that all matter is composed of discrete particles. The elements consist of identical atoms, and compounds consist of identical molecules, which are particles containing small whole number ratios of atoms. We also assume that we have determined a complete set of relative atomic weights, allowing us to determine the molecular formula for any compound.

The individual molecules of different compounds have characteristic properties, such as mass, structure, geometry, bond lengths, bond angles, polarity, diamagnetism or paramagnetism. We have not yet considered the properties of mass quantities of matter, such as density, phase (solid, liquid or gas) at room temperature, boiling and melting points, reactivity, and so forth. These are properties which are not exhibited by individual molecules. It makes no sense to ask what the boiling point of one molecule is, nor does an individual molecule exist as a gas, solid, or liquid. However, we do expect that these material or bulk properties are related to the properties of the individual molecules. Our ultimate goal is to relate the properties of the atoms and molecules to the properties of the materials which they comprise.

Achieving this goal will require considerable analysis. In this Concept Development Study, we begin at a somewhat more fundamental level, with our goal to know more about the nature of gases, liquids and solids. We need to study the relationships between the physical properties of materials, such as density and temperature. We begin our study by examining these properties in gases.

Last Update: 2011-03-19