Equipartition of Energy


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Related to Equipartition of Energy: degree of freedom
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Equipartition of Energy

 

a principle of classical statistical mechanics stating that a statistical system in a state of thermodynamic equilibrium has an average kinetic energy of kT/2 associated with each translational and rotational degree of freedom and an average energy of kT associated with each vibrational degree of freedom. Here, T is the absolute temperature of the system and k is the Boltzmann constant. The equipartition principle is an approximate law. It breaks down when quantum effects become important or, in the case of vibrational degrees of freedom, when the anharmonic terms of the interaction become significant. The equipartition principle permits the maximum values of the specific heats of polyatomic gases and solids at high temperatures to be easily estimated.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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