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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Happy Molecules

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.33 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Jan 16, 2002 by Chemistry Editorial Board
Overview: Very clever demonstration of reversibility by watching motion of a mixture of molecules in a box.
After having seen the animation, the site offers an explanation for the Boltsman's paradox. It is an excellent start for a statistical mechanics course. However, the instructor must provide much more data and method for the discussion of such systems.
Learning Goals: Demonstrate Boltzmann's Paradox and getting students to think about the applet seen.
Target Student Population: Physical Chemistry students (Statistical mechancis)
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Background in physical chemistry
Type of Material: Animation

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: Easy to see the point and simple in terms of the concept.
Concerns: Science is a philosophy dealing with the physical universe. Provoking thinking is an important part of the philosophical approach, and thinking is also a scientific method. The simulation of "Happy Molecules," appears unreal, yet it illustrates the Boltsmann's paradox rather well. Physical recurrence is so rare that it cannot be observed. Simulation is the only means to explain the phenomena or paradox.

The animation shows many molecules moving in a two-dimensional space, and the molecules coalesce frequently, and perhaps too frequently for the number of particles even in a two dimensional space with finite number of velocity distribution.

After having seen the animation, the site offers an explanation for the Boltsman's paradox. It is an excellent start for a statistical mechanics course. However, the instructor must provide much more data and method for the discussion of such systems.

The method of animation is not given, and the frequency of recurrence seem to be unrealistic.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The object and animation are simple and the object of the animation is easily understood.
Concerns: The reader should consult other sources regarding the Boltzmann's paradox after having read the explanation of the paradox.
Since the recurrence is too often, and this may be misleading without further explanation.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: Simple simulation
Concerns: The animation is an applet which runs on your computer with no need for other things except a browser able to show Java applets.
May be too simple and easy to use.