Supercharge your learning!

Use adaptive quiz-based learning to study this topic faster and more effectively.

Particle movement and temperature

Particles are in constant motion. This animation shows the movement of gas molecules.
Particles are in constant motion. This animation shows the movement of gas molecules.

The particles that make up everyday objects are in constant movement.

These particles can be atoms (the basic units of matter) but are more commonly molecules (two or more atoms chemically bonded together).

The movement of particles is experienced in everyday life as temperature.

At low temperatures, the particles move slowly and tend to vibrate around specific positions. They are held in place by intermolecular forces.

At higher temperatures, particles move faster. They break free from their positions and move in straight lines. They change direction (and may lose speed) when they collide with other molecules.

Absolute zero is the lowest temperature theoretically possible. This happens at $$-273.15^{\circ}\text{C}$$. At absolute zero, particle movement is at a minimum.