Integrated SequencePhysics Chemistry Organic Biology

Web Resources

  click if a link is broken

Special points of emphasis

Abnormal Psychology

The Ideal Gas and Kinetic Theory

The ideal gas is an imaginary construct. Like the incompressible fluid or the frictionless inclined plane, the ideal gas was developed as a concept to make certain kinds of discussion possible, clarifying the discussion of basic thermodynamic relationships. An ideal gas consists of perfectly spherical particles of zero volume. Ideal gas particles can only collide elastically. Because the particles may only interact through elastic collisions, as a system, an ideal gas only possesses internal energy in the form of the translational kinetic energy of the particles. There are no place within the system for rotational or vibrational kinetic energy, and there are no intermolecular forces within an ideal gas, so there is no place for electrostatic potential energy. One very important consequence of restricting internal energy to the translational kinetic energy of the particles is that the internal energy a given amount of ideal gas may be directly determined from the temperature. Another crucial consequence is that the thermodynamic state of the ideal gas may be specified by any two of the pressure, volume, and temperature.

In my opinion a good understanding of Thermodynamics is one of the most important steps to an integrated conceptual understanding of science, so please pay special attention to this chapter, as well as the other topics from this module and the next. In addition the importance of the Ideal Gas and Kinetic Theory to the overall learning progression, this material will definitely appear in conceptual questions and quantitative questions on the MCAT. Generally, the writers of the MCAT are more interested in your conceptual understanding of physics and chemistry than your ability to solve number problems, so the balance with MCAT physical sciences questions leans towards conceptual questions away from quantitative questions. However, there will usually be a half dozen physics questions that require quantitative problem solving, so it is helpful to know which categories often given rise to quantitative questions, such as the Ideal Gas Law as well as portions of Kinetic Theory such as Graham's Law.

The WikiPremed MCAT Course is a free comprehensive course in the undergraduate level general sciences. Undergraduate level physics, chemistry, organic chemistry and biology are presented by this course as a unified whole within a spiraling curriculum.

Please read our policies on privacy and shipping & returns.  Contact Us.
MCAT is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges, which does not endorse the WikiPremed Course.

Creative Commons License
The work of WikiPremed is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 License. There are elements of work here, such as a subset of the images in the archive from WikiPedia, that originated as GNU General Public License works, so take care to follow the unique stipulations of that license in printed reproductions. You can use the resources here for commercial or non-commercial purposes, but please give attribution and a link to the production credits and edit history of the resource. For the works here which began as my individual work, please attribute "John Wetzel, an author at".