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Homework Help: Gas molecule and moving wall collision

  1. Apr 14, 2010 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Gas is contained in an enclosure in which one of the walls is a plane of area A. The wall
    acts as a frictionless piston, moving with constant velocity u in the positive x-direction,
    thus increasing the volume V of gas enclosed.

    A gas molecule of mass m approaches the moving wall at velocity v = (vx, 0, 0),
    relative to the enclosure. Obtain an expression for the velocity of the molecule after
    it rebounds elastically from the moving wall.

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution

    So in the rest frame of the wall you have v = u - vx, and the rebounded velocity is just the negative of this. But how do you transform back to the lab frame? Or was it unnecessary transforming into the rest frame of the wall in the first place? I am confused?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2010 #2
    Remember, the molecule is traveling faster than the wall, so you might want it set as v = vx -u. Also, once you solve it you will definitely need to go back to the lab frame.
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