Applets Maxwell Distribution

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Maxwell's Speed Distribution Created Dynamically

On opening the applet, every molecule has the same speed (but random direction). Elastic collisions between molecules rapidly change the speed distribution from a single spike to that predicted by Maxwell, discussed in detail in my lecture. Of course, Maxwell's distribution was for molecules in 3D, we're only in 2D, but the identical statistical argument works, the only significant difference being that at the low energy end, the 3D distribution begins parabolically, the 2D linearly. Click to see the "Theoretical" (2D) curve. This also gives you some idea of the fluctuations, the top distribution is an instantaneous reading, the other the average over time. Explore how the fluctuations vary with the number of particles: much more pronounced (as a fraction of average value) for 100 particles than for 1000. Use the Pause button a few times to get a clearer picture of the magnitude of the fluctuations.