Chemistry: Why This Is Important: Ideal Gases

Why This Is Important: Ideal Gases

From the very definition of a model, we know that the Kinetic Molecular Theory of gases isn't true. Instead of telling us how gases actually behave in the real world, it gives us an idealized version of how gases should behave under perfect conditions. As it turns out, gases that follow all of the assumptions of the KMT are referred to as "ideal gases."

For those of you who haven't picked up on the idea, here's a clarification: There is no such thing as an ideal gas! Ideal gases are imaginary! There are as many ideal gases in the universe as there are tooth fairies! Don't tell your friends, relatives, or anybody else that ideal gases are real, because they'll lock you up for being a deluded maniac!

The concept of an ideal gas, however, is a useful one. It's very difficult to come up with rules for describing the behaviors of real gases because they come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, as well as experience different intermolecular forces to various degrees. Since most gases behave more or less like an ideal gas, we of an ideal gas. can pretend that real gases are the same as ideal gases.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chemistry © 2003 by Ian Guch. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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