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Chapter

Cover Introductory Statistical Mechanics

Maxwell distribution of molecular speeds  

This chapter starts with ideas from James Clerk Maxwell's publication the distribution of the speeds of particles in a gas, which he obtained by analysing collision processes between the particles. It recounts how Maxwell showed that there could be a distribution of speeds and calculated the distribution, contradicting people's speculation that the particles of the gas moved with the same speed. It also mentions Ludwig Boltzmann, who treated the kinetic theory of gases from a microscopic point of view using the notion of probability. The chapter details how Boltzmann derived Maxwell's distribution of speeds and related it to the temperature of the particles. It examines particles using quantum mechanics and derives the Maxwell distribution of speeds.