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Chemistry: Gas Laws

Gas Laws

In the previous section, we spent a great deal of time discussing how gases behave on a molecular level with the Kinetic Molecular Theory (KMT). Once we developed the KMT, we were able to explain the easily observed properties of gases in terms of this theory.

Unfortunately, the calculations we did in the last section don't help us with most of the common problems we need to solve. For example, what happens to the pressure of a gas in a closed container when we raise the temperature from 25º C to 500º C? At first glance, this may not seem like a very interesting problem to solve. However, if you throw a can of spray paint into a campfire, you'll see a spectacular demonstration of why this is interesting. (By the way, it's a bad idea to actually attempt this demonstration—if you want to see what happens, I'm sure some bonehead has put a video clip of it on the Internet.)

Of course, scientists in the field spend relatively little time throwing compressed gases into campfires, so we'll not only learn about how gases behave, but we'll also examine some examples in which sane chemists might use these behaviors to make the world a better place.

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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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