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Homework Help: Thermal motion

  1. Jul 30, 2010 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    One of the learning outcomes in the syllabus for my Structure of Matter course is the following:

    • be aware that atoms are in thermal motion

    What is thermal motion?

    2. Relevant equations


    3. The attempt at a solution

    No idea!

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 30, 2010 #2
    In gases, the atoms are not stationary, they are in continuous motion. They collide with the walls of the container, and with each other too. As the temperature is increased, the average speed of the atoms increases.

    In a solid, the atoms undergo vibrational motion. Again as the temperature is increased, the amplitude of vibration increases.
    Heat conduction in a solid takes place as energetic atoms hit neighbouring atoms and pass on the vibrational energy.

    Have you heard of the Brownian motion? It is a result of continuous motion of the atoms in a liquid.
  4. Jul 30, 2010 #3
    But why do we call that motion thermal? Is it because that motion is associated with thermal energy, which is another name (I believe) for internal/ microscopic energy?
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