The Gaseous State
We have a pretty good understanding of the gaseous state in terms of the link between the
variables describing the microscopic (atomicscale) realm, and the variables describing the
macroscopic realm.
In the microscopic world we can talk about position, velocity, and mass of the individual atoms,
all of which are governed by Newton's laws of motion. By the use of statistical mechanics and
averages we can then relate these variables to the macroscopic world by talking about such
quantities as pressure, volume, temperature, and moles. For now, though, let's focus on the
macroscopic world and search for an equation of state that will tell us the relationships between
all these macroscopic world quantities.
Boyle's Law
We start with the experimental observations of Robert Boyle, who showed that the quantities of
pressure times volume are a constant. This is called Boyle's Law. This is shown in the diagrams
below.
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Each line on the graph is a line of constant temperature, and is called an isotherm. In a plot of P
versus 1/V, we see that the isotherms are straight lines with constant slopes.
For an ideal gas the pressure times the volume is constant, but for realworld gases this is not
always true.
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 Winter '08
 FOUCHER
 Robert Boyle

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