The Virtual Lab Experience

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Steven Dziuk
SC300 Big Ideas in Science: From Methods to Mutation
Unit Five Project
Temperature and Equilibrium Virtual Lab  
June 15, 2010

Temperature and Equilibrium Virtual Lab  

This virtual lab studies the affects different temperatures have on two sets of molecules, both separate and when mixed. I will compare how these two sets of molecules react in colder temperatures; then hotter temperatures; and how the two react with each other. Then, based on these findings, I will offer theories of two case studies involving 1) honey added to two cups of tea and 2) a package of smelly limburger cheese opened on a winter and summer day.

The experiment begins with a chamber that is divided—on the left are 20 red molecules, on the right, 20 blue. Each molecule is given a maximum mass of 199 amu. When I lowered the temperature on the red side to 1K, these molecules slowed way down. The blue molecules, at 273K, moved quickly, with much more energy. Lowering the temperature seems to “thicken” the area the molecules move in. These molecules slow down to almost a stand-still. If the temperature was lowered further, the molecules would eventually stop or “freeze”. The molecules would not be moving and bumping into one another, which would result in a loss of heat or energy transfer (Trefil & Hazen, 2011, p. 75).

The next step was to lower the temperature on the blue side to 1K also. I added more molecules to each half, bringing the total up to 99. The additional molecules seemed to slow down their movement even more. At 20, the molecules had a chance to “explore the chamber”. When the number increased to 99, there was less room for the molecules to move. Some even appeared stopped, or frozen. The higher volume of molecules at the lower temperatures appeared to make the chamber denser.

Removal of the divider allowed for the mixing of the 99 blue and 99 red molecules at temperatures of 1K and 999K: "Mixing at 1K"
5 minutes elapsed: Some mixing had...
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