Theoretical question for Physicists?

Imagine an ideal chamber, enclosing a gas that is completely isolated from the external environment. In other words, the gas being enclosed by the chamber has absolutely no way in escaping outside the chamber. Imagine also, that all sides of the chamber, have pistons that surround the gas and these pistons move in to compress the gas and create a smaller volume for the gas inside the chamber.

Now realistically , the more energy you use to compress any gas, the harder it becomes and more energy is needed because as the volume decreases, the gas particles have less space to move about.

That being said, what if you apply an INFINITE amount of energy on the pistons of the chamber to compress the gas to the point where the volume inside the chamber reaches ZERO. Is that possible in the real or ideal world? What would happen to the gas in such situation? Would it turn into an unstable solid and explode if the volume of the chamber increases again or becomes exposed to the external environment?

I always wondered what the answer for this would be.

7 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    <QUOTE>completely isolated from the external environment.</QUOTE>

    Does that mean that it doesn't have heat exchanges with the environment too? In other words, are the walls adiabatic?

    <QUOTE>the more energy you use to compress any gas, the harder it becomes and more energy is needed because as the volume decreases, the gas particles have less space to move about.</QUOTE>

    Because you reduce the surface of the container, the same number of gas particles are banging against a smaller surface, therefore the pressure on the surface increases (i.e. the pressure inside the vessel increases).

    <QUOTE>what if you apply an INFINITE amount of energy on the pistons of the chamber to compress the gas to the point where the volume inside the chamber reaches ZERO.</QUOTE>

    That depends on the gas. "Air", which is a mixture of different gases (nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, carbon dioxide, argon, etc) for example behaves only as an ideal gas (with a relation between pressure, density and temperature given by the ideal gas law that you learn in chemistry and physics classes at school) only within a certain regime where, for example, there are no interactions between the chemical species in the mixture.

    When you increase the pressure, "other stuff" starts happening.

    - You may begin to have chemical reactions between species and therefore it no longer behaves as an ideal gas.

    - Increasing further the energy, you may get to a point where the pressure (and average kinetic energy of the particles) is high enough that it overcomes the Coulomb repulsion between nuclei and you start having nuclear reactions and fusing nuclei to create heavier nuclei. Progressively, you increase the atomic number of the nuclei by fusing "lighter" nuclei together (carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, argon, etc) and heavier nuclei start appearing in the mixture.

    - If you increase the pressure further, the kinetic energy of the free electrons in the gas becomes enough that they can perform inverse electron capture and create neutrons from protons and electrons.

    - If you increase the pressure even more, the effects of gluon-gluon and gluon-quark and quark-quark scattering increases further and become the dominant factor. This phase is known as the quark-gluon plasma, where the quarks are essentially "free" (in the sense that the interaction/scattering length is shorter than the scale of the nuclear strong interaction). They look free in the sense that quark confinement isn't so significant (as it happens in hadrons such as protons and neutrons) but the pressure of the quarks and gluons in this "gas" is the dominant factor and so, between collisions, quarks and gluons behave as if they were "free" or unbound by strong force confinement.

    - If you increase the pressure more, the kinetic energy of the "gas" components (no longer the electrons and ions you started off with) is enough that it becomes kinematically accessible to have interactions where contributions of heavier particles become more significant. It becomes kinematically possible to materialize weak bosons such as the W and Z. You may even have enough energy to start materializing Higgs bosons, and if the energy is high enough they become essentially "free particles" in the sense that the interaction length (how long it goes before they scatter off some other particle in the gas) is much smaller than the length they travel before decaying.

    - What goes on beyond increasing the pressure further is anyone's guess. We don't know yet that much, particle physicists haven't yet found more energetic reactions.

    Source(s): You might speculate that, if the energy density (how much kinetic energy from the particles is available per unit of volume) becomes high enough that it has more or less the same effect as the gravitational field of the mass of the particles present (the mass of the original gas PLUS the energy you inserted into the system by compressing it!) then you might get a black hole. I don't know of anyone having figured out what the behavior of matter is at those energy scales. The scale of energy at which the gravitational force becomes significant (in the sense that we cannot ignore them when making correct calculations of the behavior of the "gas") in particle interactions is known as Planck scale. Unfortunately, I don't have more room to add details, such as if we'd consider instead a gas of photons instead of starting off with a gas of "matter" (atoms).
  • Bob B
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    There are a few things to consider:

    In the real (and theoretical) world, at some point you'd compress the gas beyond the critical density to form a singularity, and the whole thing would collapse to form a black hole. For any finite mass, there is a finite volume where this would happen, so you'd get a black hole before reaching zero volume (which is why these sort of "infinity" scenarios can't be realised in practice).

    Before that happened, though, you might be able to compress the gas into a solid- different elements have different properties, and some can be compressed down to other states of matter; some cannot.

  • Mez
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    Under compression, the gas will turn into liquid followed by solid phase and then, if, as you say, and infinite amount of energy is used, the solid will diffuse into whatever material the pistons are made of. Not so difficult to comprehend.

    Source(s): me
  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    There will always be a Higgs field around, which can make its way through the densest materials for the container.

    The static mass you percieve is a static cyclic field at all.

    The compression of the gas will not achieve perfectly zero volume.

    Source(s): theoretically speaking
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 8 years ago

    Compression of such type .. depends on the nature of the gas you use.

    The more un reactive the gas is , the more easily it'll try getting converted to a liquid state(unstable).

    Rarely solid .. In case the gas you use is pretty much reactive .. it might lead to explosion.

    Moreover dude.. Theoretical questions like this .. can't have Practical answers as you expect ..

    You get it..?

    well you will. :)


  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    ??? I doubt it extremely is authentic that "each and all of the widespread Theoretical Physicists are atheists". actual it extremely isn't any longer authentic traditionally. i might think of that kind of a million/3 of theoretical physicists are Christian. In my admittedly constrained adventure, *maximum* physicists are Christians - yet, then, I stay interior the U.S. - Jim, Bach Sci Physics 1989

  • I was trying to follow your line of reasoning until you said "INFINITE". Infinities don't exist in nature. They don't exist in any workable theory. The same applies to any mass having zero volume, since in that case you have infinite density. It would become a black hole according to the definition of a singularity in classical physics, but that ignores quantum physical effects.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.