Explore: Speed Distributions of Gases

Try out the simulation below to get a feel for how temperature and mass are related to the speed of gas particles.

Some manipulations to try:

    In the “Energy” tab:

    See how temperature affects motion:

    • Choose either blue or red gas molecules to add to the container, and add 1-2 “units” of gas with the bicycle pump.
    • Observe the particles. Are they all moving the same speed? What types of motion do you see?
    • Look at the “speed” histogram on the right, and the average speed.
    • Increase the temperature using the slider on the bucket. How does the motion change when you increase the temperature? How does your average speed change? What changes do you notice in the histogram?
    • Try decreasing the temperature, and again observe the changes in motion ( in the animation) and speed (in the histogram and average speed value).

    See how mass affects motion:

    • Add some of the other (red or blue) molecule to your container using the bicycle pump. The blue molecule is larger and has higher mass (M) than the red one.
    • How does the motion of the blue particles compare to the red ones? How do their average speeds compare? (Remember, they are at the same temperature)
    • Turn on the coloured traces on the histogram (the checkboxes) so that you can see the distributions of each type of gas overlaid on the total. What do you notice in comparing the two distributions?
    • Try adjusting the temperature. How does the motion of the “new” gas change? Does it follow the same trend as your original gas? What happens to their average speeds?
    • How do the distributions of speeds (in the histograms) for the two gases compare? Are they the same? Did they undergo similar changes when you adjusted the temperature?