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Charles’s Law and Absolute Zero

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Publication 91561

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Charles’s Law describes the relationship between the temperature of a gas and its volume. In order to understand this relationship, we must imagine what happens to the particles in a gas when it is heated or cooled. The temperature of a gas measures the average kinetic energy of the gas particles—how fast they are moving. When a gas is heated, the kinetic energy of the particles increases and they move faster. When a gas is cooled, the kinetic energy of the particles decreases and they move slower. Is there a lower limit to the temperature scale at which the particles stop moving altogether and their kinetic energy is zero? What would happen to the volume of a gas at this minimum temperature?