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Old Dec 10th 2014, 01:14 AM   #1
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Physical significance of temperature

Some books say when heat flows into a monatomic gas at constant volume, all of the added
energy goes into an increase in random translational molecular kinetic energy. But when the temperature is increased by the same amount in a diatomic or polyatomic gas, additional heat is needed to supply the increased rotational and vibrational energies. Thus polyatomic gases have larger molar heat capacities
than monatomic gases.

Does the absolute temperature reflect translation kinetic energy of gases only? If all types of kinetic energy of gas particles are related to temperature, why polyatomic gases have larger molar heat capacities than monatomic gases?
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Old Dec 31st 2014, 05:29 PM   #2
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I think that the basic physical interpretation of temperature is the kinetic energy of the motion of the atoms.
The degrees of freedom of motion available to an atom (vibration, rotation, translation)
are different depending on if the atom is in a solid, liquid, or gas,

but the basic relationship between temperature and kinetic energy remains the same.

This relationship possibly starts to change when one considers plasma,
although this could perhaps be viewed as just another degree of freedom,
as the electrons move relative to the charged ions.
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Last edited by MBW; Jan 9th 2015 at 04:54 PM.
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