Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Molecular Chaos Observed For The First Time

Date:
July 31, 2007
Source:
Baylor University
Summary:
A researcher has created the first experimental observation of molecular chaos, providing evidence that a widely accepted, yet unproven, assumption is indeed accurate. Molecular chaos is an assumption that the velocities of colliding particles are uncorrelated and independent of position. An example of molecular chaos is the air in any room. While the nitrogen and oxygen atoms are flying around with some average square speed because of the temperature in the room, they are not related, so the air does not spontaneously fly off in one direction of the room without some sort of external pressure change, like a window opening.

Still image from a movie made of the molecular chaos experiment.
Credit: G. W. Baxter and J. S. Olafsen

A Baylor University researcher has created the first experimental observation of molecular chaos, providing evidence that a widely accepted, yet unproven, assumption is indeed accurate.

Related Articles


Molecular chaos is an assumption that the velocities of colliding particles are uncorrelated and independent of position. An example of molecular chaos is the air in any room. While the nitrogen and oxygen atoms are flying around with some average square speed because of the temperature in the room, they are not related, so the air does not spontaneously fly off in one direction of the room without some sort of external pressure change, like a window opening.

The molecular chaos assumption, which is part of the kinetic theory of gases, is widely thought to be true because everything else that arises and follows from that assumption works so well. However, it has been nearly impossible to prove the assumption, until now.

“It was very exciting when we first happened upon the observation,” said Dr. Jeffrey Olafsen, associate professor of physics at Baylor and a lead investigator on the project. “Prior observations have been made in computer simulations, but this is the first time it has been measured in an experimental system.”

Olafsen, in collaboration with Dr. G. William Baxter, associate professor of physics at Pennsylvania State University – Erie, constructed two “gases,” or layers, of ball bearings. In the layer where molecular chaos held, researchers measured Maxwell Boltzmann statistics, like those that predict the mean square speed of particles in the air in the room. In the layer where the assumption of molecular chaos failed, the statistics did not obey Maxwell Boltzmann statistics. Perhaps the most interesting part, researchers said, is that the two “gases” were in contact with each other while simultaneously demonstrating their respective behavior.

“The two layers can be thought of as two gases simultaneously in thermal contact, and yet, one of the gases demonstrates molecular chaos while the other does not,” Olafsen said. “It means that the particulars of how energy is injected and distributed within the two gases is important to understanding when a system will demonstrate molecular chaos.”

Olafsen said the results also are beneficial to building a fundamental thermodynamics for systems driven far from equilibrium.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Baylor University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Baylor University. "Molecular Chaos Observed For The First Time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070727212344.htm>.
Baylor University. (2007, July 31). Molecular Chaos Observed For The First Time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070727212344.htm
Baylor University. "Molecular Chaos Observed For The First Time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070727212344.htm (accessed February 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vibrating Bicycle Senses Traffic

Vibrating Bicycle Senses Traffic

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Feb. 26, 2015) Dutch scientists have developed a smart bicycle that uses sensors, wireless technology and video to warn riders of traffic dangers. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Japan, Robot Dogs Are for Life -- And Death

In Japan, Robot Dogs Are for Life -- And Death

AFP (Feb. 25, 2015) Robot dogs are the perfect pet for some in Japan who go to repairmen-turned-vets when their pooch breaks down - while a full Buddhist funeral ceremony awaits those who don&apos;t make it. Duration: 02:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
London Show Dissects History of Forensic Science

London Show Dissects History of Forensic Science

AFP (Feb. 25, 2015) Forensic science, which has fascinated generations with its unravelling of gruesome crime mysteries, is being put under the microscope in an exhibition of real criminal investigations in London. Duration: 00:53 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Replace Damaged Hands With Prostheses

Researchers Replace Damaged Hands With Prostheses

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) Scientists in Austria have been able to fit patients who&apos;ve lost the use of a hand with bionic prostheses the patients control with their minds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins