John Herapath - The beginning of the kinetic theory of gases

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John Herapath (1790-1868), a self-taught scientist, was the first to present a comprehensive description of the structure of a gas, in which the molecules moved and collided with each other, instead of vibrating in a fixed lattice. His model made the wrong assumption that the momentum of the molecules, instead of their kinetic energy measured the temperature. He used his model to calculate for the first time the velocity of a molecule, the velocity of sound and to describe effusion phenomena through small pores, and adiabatic compression. His speculative approach put him at odds with the empirical approach of the British scientific establishment of his time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-285
Number of pages11
JournalIndian Journal of Chemical Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2004


  • Kinetic theory of gases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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