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In this report, a standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution (B) is defined by analogy to the concept of the standard Gaussian distribution. The most important statistical properties of B, as well as a simple method for generating random numbers from the standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution are presented. Given that the properties of B are already known, it is advantageous to describe any arbitrary Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution as a function of the standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution B. By using this approach, it is possible to demonstrate that the temperature of a material is a function only of the fluctuating component of the average molecular kinetic energy, and that it is independent of its macroscopic kinetic energy.

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Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution: Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research, 050030 Medellin, Colombia

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

ORCID : 0000-0002-7634-7161

doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.29888.74244

Abstract

**In this report, a standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution (?) is defined by analogy to the
**

concept of the standard Gaussian distribution. The most important statistical properties of ?,

as well as a simple method for generating random numbers from the standard Maxwell-

Boltzmann distribution are presented. Given that the properties of ? are already known, it is

advantageous to describe any arbitrary Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution as a function of the

standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution ?. By using this approach, it is possible to

demonstrate that the temperature of a material is a function only of the fluctuating

component of the average molecular kinetic energy, and that it is independent of its

macroscopic kinetic energy.

Keywords

Ideal gases; Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution; Molecular speed; Kinetic energy; Random

numbers; Standard distribution; Temperature

1. Introduction

Atoms and molecules are in permanent motion. Even for solid materials, they move and collide

with their neighbors, although remaining almost at their same positions. The motion of

molecules1 in gases and liquids is perhaps easier to imagine. This motion can be characterized

by their particular velocities. There is no reason to believe that all molecules in a material will

move at exactly the same speed (which is the magnitude of the velocity vector). On the

contrary, it seems more reasonable to think the opposite. In fact, experimental measurements

demonstrate that molecules in a gas do move at different speeds. As an example, Figure 1

shows an experimental distribution of molecular speeds for potassium gas at 544 K.[1] Based

1

The concept of “molecule” used along this document includes the case of mono-atomic molecules.

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (1 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

**on this premise, James Clerk Maxwell derived the molecular speed distribution of ideal gases in
**

1860,[2] almost a century before it could be proved experimentally. Some years later, Ludwig

Boltzmann was able to derive the same distribution using a more rigorous and formal

approach.[3] The distribution they obtained is presently known as the Maxwell-Boltzmann

distribution,[4] and it will be presented and briefly discussed in Section 2. The proposed

standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution will be introduced in Section 3, along with their most

important statistical properties. In Section 4, a mathematical procedure for obtaining random

numbers based on the Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution is described. These standard

Maxwell-Boltzmann random numbers can be used to generate random numbers for any

arbitrary Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution. Finally, in Section 5, the Standard Maxwell-

Boltzmann distribution is used for analyzing the data presented in Fig. 1.

1

0,8

Frequency (a.u.)

0,6

0,4

0,2

0

0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200

Molecular speed (m/s)

**Figure 1. Experimental molecular speed distribution for potassium gas at 544 K obtained using a
**

vacuum oven coupled with a spiral velocity selector and a tungsten surface ionization

detector.[1] The frequency is presented in arbitrary units.

2. The Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution

**According to Maxwell [2] and Boltzmann,[3] the (thermal) molecular speeds (?) of a pure, ideal
**

gas can be described by the following probability distribution:

?2

−

2 ? 2 ? 2?2

?(?) = √ , ?≥0

? ?3

(2.1)

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (2 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

where

?? ?

?=√

?

(2.2)

**is a characteristic speed, ?? represents a conversion factor between energy and temperature
**

(known as the “Boltzmann constant”) which is equal to 1.3806 × 10−23 ?/?, ? is the

temperature of the gas, and ? is the mass of the gas molecules.

**Equation (2.1) represents a Gaussian distribution with respect to the kinetic energy of the
**

molecules, which is proportional to the square molecular speed (? 2 ).

For such speed distribution, the average speed can be calculated as:

∞ 2 2

1 2 ∞ −

? 1 2 ∞ −

?

?(?) = ∫ ??(?)?? = 3 √ ∫ ? 3 ? 2?2 ?? = 3 √ ∫ ? 2 ∙ ?? 2?2 ??

0 ? ? 0 ? ? 0

2 ∞ ∞ 2 2 ∞

1 2 ? ? 8 ? 8

− − −

= 3 √ [−?2 ? 2 ? 2?2 | + 2?2 ∫ ?? 2?2 ?? ] = √ ? [−? 2?2 | ] = √ ?

? ? 0 0 ? 0

?

8?? ?

=√

??

(2.3)

And the variance of the molecular speed following a Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution is:

2) 2 1 2 ∞ 4 − ? 22 8?2

???(?) = ?(? − (?(?)) = 3 √ ∫ ? ? 2? ?? −

? ? 0 ?

∞

1 2 ?2 ∞ ?2 8?2

− −

= 3 √ [−?2 ? 3 ? 2?2 | + 3?2 ∫ ? 2 ? 2?2 ?? ] −

? ? 0 0 ?

∞

3 2 ?2 ∞ ?2 8?2 2 √? 8?2

= √ [−?2 ?? −2?2 | + ?2 ∫ ? −2?2 ?? ] − = 3?√ [√2? ] −

? ? 0 0 ? ? 2 ?

8?2 8 8 ?? ?

= 3?2 − = ?2 (3 − ) = (3 − )

? ? ? ?

(2.4)

Consequently, the standard deviation is:

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (3 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

8 ?? ?

?(?) = √???(?) = √(3 − ?) ?

(2.5)

**A particular characteristic of this type of distribution is that the coefficient of variation (CV) is a
**

constant:

8 ?? ?

?(?) √(3 − ?) ? 3?

??(?) = = =√ −1

?(?) 8

√ 8 ?? ?

? ?

(2.6)

**Figure 2 shows the predicted speed distributions of an ideal gas following the Maxwell-
**

Boltzmann distribution at 3 different temperatures. The points correspond to the experimental

data presented in Figure 1. Even though the fit is not perfect, the similitude is quite remarkable;

this difference is can be explained by the effect of vacuum in the measuring apparatus, which

causes a flow of gas towards the vacuum pump. This effect will be discussed in further detail in

Section 5.

3E-03

T=300 K

2E-03 T=544 K

Relative frequency

T=1000 K

2E-03

T=544 K (Exp)

1E-03

5E-04

0E+00

0 500 1000 1500 2000

Molecular speed (m/s)

**Figure 2. Molecular speed distributions for potassium gas obtained from the Maxwell-
**

Boltzmann distribution at 300 K, 544 K and 1000 K (solid lines), compared to the experimental

speeds measured at 544 K (data points).[1]

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (4 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

3. Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution: Definition and Properties

**Let us now define a reduced molecular speed (?) as the ratio between the molecular speed
**

and the average molecular speed of the distribution:

?(?) ?(?)

?= =

?(?(?))

√8?? ?

??

(3.1)

**The variable ? is a Maxwell-Boltzmann random variable, described by a Maxwell-Boltzmann
**

distribution where ?(?(?)) = 1 (in the corresponding units of speed being used), or

?? ?

equivalently, ? = 8? , or ? = √ 8 . Then, its frequency distribution will be (from Eq. 2.1):

?

32 2 −4?2

?(?) = ? ? ? , ?≥0

?2

(3.2)

**The most important characteristic of this dimensionless standard Maxwell-Boltzmann variable
**

(?) is that its average value is:

∞

32 ∞ 3 −4?2 4 ∞ 8 −

4?2

?(?) = ∫ ??(?)?? = ∫ ? ? ? ?? = − ∫ ? 2 ∙ (− ) ?? ? ??

0 ?2 0 ? 0 ?

∞ ∞

4 2 −4?2 ? ∞ 8 −

4?2

−

4?2

= − [? ? ? | + ∫ (− ) ?? ? ??] = − ? ? | = 1

? 0

4 0 ? 0

(3.3)

**Similarly, it can also be found that the variance, standard deviation and coefficient of variation
**

of ? are, respectively:

3?

???(?) = 8

−1 (3.4)

3?

?(?) = √ 8 − 1 (3.5)

3?

??(?) = √ 8 − 1 (3.6)

**The reduced molecular speed has been denoted as standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution
**

by analogy with the standard Gaussian distribution.[5]

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (5 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

**From Eq. (3.1), it is possible to relate any arbitrary Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution of molecular
**

speeds to the standard Maxwell-Boltzmann variable ? by:

8?? ?

?(?) = √ ?

??

(3.7)

In this way,

8?? ? 8?? ? 8?? ?

?[?(?)] = ? (√ ??

?) =√ ??

?(?) =√ ??

(3.8)

and

8?? ? 8?? ? 8?? ? 3? ?? ? 8

???[?(?)] = ??? (√ ?) = ???(?) = ( − 1) = (3 − ) (3.9)

?? ?? ?? 8 ? ?

which are consistent with Eq. (2.3) and (2.4).

**The advantage of defining the dimensionless standard Maxwell-Boltzmann variable ?, is that it
**

is now possible to determine all additional properties for ?, and they can then be used to

describe any Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution by using Eq. (3.7).

**For example, the expected values for different powers of ? are:
**

∞

2) 2

32 ∞ 3 −

4?2 4 ∞ 3 8 −

4?2

?(? = ∫ ? ?(?)?? = 2 ∫ ? ∙ ?? ? ?? = − ∫ ? ∙ (− ) ?? ? ??

0 ? 0 ? 0 ?

∞ ∞

4 4?2 4?2 3 ∞ 8 4?2

= − [? 3 ? − ? | − 3 ∫ ? ∙ ?? − ? ??] = − [∫ ? ∙ (− ) ?? − ? ??]

? 0 0 2 0 ?

∞ ∞

3 4?2 4?2 3?

= − [?? − ? | − ∫ ? − ? ??] =

2 0 0 8

(3.10)

4?2

∞ ?

This result is obtained given that ∫0 ? − ? ?? = 4 .

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (6 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

∞

32 ∞ 4 −

4?2 4 ∞ 8 −

4?2

?(?3 ) = ∫ ? 3 ?(?)?? = ∫ ? ∙ ?? ? ?? = − ∫ ? 4 ∙ (− ) ?? ? ??

0 ?2 0 ? 0 ?

∞ ∞ ∞

4 4?2 4?2 8 4?2

= − [? 4 ? − ? | − 4 ∫ ? 2 ∙ ?? − ? ??] = −2 [∫ ? 2 ∙ (− ) ?? − ? ??]

? 0 0 0 ?

∞ ∞

4?2

2 − ? −

4?2 ? ∞ 8 −

4?2

= −2 [? ? | − 2 ∫ ?? ? ?? ] = − [∫ (− ) ?? ? ??]

0 0 2 0 ?

∞

? 4?2 ?

= − [? − ? | ]=

2 0

2

(3.11)

∞

32 ∞ 5 −

4?2 4 ∞ 8 −

4?2

?(?4 ) = ∫ ? 4 ?(?)?? = ∫ ? ∙ ?? ? ?? = − ∫ ? 5 ∙ (− ) ?? ? ??

0 ?2 0 ? 0 ?

∞∞

4 5 −4?2 3 −

4?2 5 ∞ 3 8 −

4?2

= − [? ? ? | − 5 ∫ ? ∙ ?? ? ??] = − [∫ ? ∙ (− ) ?? ? ??]

? 0 0 2 0 ?

∞ ∞

5 4?2 4?2 15? ∞ 8 4?2

= − [? 3 ? − ? | − 3 ∫ ? ∙ ?? − ? ??] = − [∫ ? ∙ (− ) ?? − ? ??]

2 0 0 16 0 ?

∞ ∞

15? 4?2 4?2 15? 2

=− [?? − ? | − ∫ ? − ? ??] =

16 0 0 64

(3.12)

**Generalizing these results, it can be found that:
**

(?−1)/2

1 ? (?−1)/2

( ) ∏ (2? + 2) ? ???

2 8

?=0

?(?? ) = ?/2

? ?/2

( ) ∏(2? + 1) ? ????

{ 8

?=0

(3.13)

On the other hand, the variances of the powers of ? are:

2 15?2 9?2 3?2

???(?2 ) = ?(?4 ) − (?(?2 )) = 64

− 64

= 32

(3.14)

2 105?3 ?2

???(?3 ) = ?(?6 ) − (?(?3 )) = 512

− 4

(3.15)

Generalizing these results, it can be found that:

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (7 / 16)
**

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Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

? (?−1)/2

? ? 1 ? (?−1)

( ) ∏(2? + 1) − ( ) ∏ (2? + 2)2 ? ???

8 4 8

?=0 ?=0

???(?? ) = ? ?/2

? ?

( ) [∏(2? + 1) − ∏(2? + 1)2 ] ? ????

8

{ ?=0 ?=0

(3.16)

**Using these results, it is now possible to analyze any nonlinear function (?) of an arbitrary
**

Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution (?), using a Taylor series expansion approach as follows:[6]

?

∞ (?)

? (0) 8?? ?

?(?) = ∑ (√ ) ??

?! ??

?=0

(3.17)

**Then, the expected value of the nonlinear function will be:
**

?

∞

?(?) (0) 8?? ?

?[?(?)] = ∑ (√ ) ?(?? )

?! ??

?=0

(3.18)

which can be readily determined by using Eq. (3.13).

**A similar approach can be used to find the variance of the nonlinear function:
**

2?

∞ 2

?(?) (0) 8?? ?

???[?(?)] = ∑ ( ) (√ ) ???(?? )

?! ??

?=1

?+?

∞

?(?) (0)?(?) (0) 8?? ?

+∑ ∑ (√ ) ???(?? , ?? )

?! ?! ??

?=1 ?≠?

(3.19)

where

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (8 / 16)
**

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Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

???(?? , ?? )

(?+?)/2 (?−1)/2 (?−1)/2

? (?+?)/2 ?

( ) [ ∏ (2? + 1) − ∏ (2? + 2) ∙ ∏ (2? + 2)] ? ???, ? ???

8 2

?=0 ?=0 ?=0

0 ? ???, ? ????

=

0 ? ????, ? ???

(?+?)/2 ?/2 ?/2

? (?+?)/2

( ) [ ∏ (2? + 1) − ∏(2? + 1) ∙ ∏(2? + 1)] ? ????, ? ????

8

{ ?=0 ?=0 ?=0

(3.20)

**Figure 3 shows the probability density function for the standard Maxwell-Boltzmann
**

distribution ?, which corresponds to the reduced molecular speed distribution.

1

0,9

f - Probability denisty function

0,8

0,7

0,6

0,5

0,4

0,3

0,2

0,1

0

0 0,5 1 1,5 2 2,5 3

B - Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann random variable

**Figure 3. Probability density function ? for the standard Maxwell-Boltzmann random variable ?
**

(reduced molecular speed distribution)

**It is also possible to determine the mode of the standard Maxwell-Boltzmann random variable
**

?, by setting the derivative of ?(?) with respect to ? equal to zero, as follows:

??(?) ? 32 2 −4?2 32 −

4?2 8 3 −4?2

= ( ? ? ? ) = 2 (2?? ? − ? ? ? )=0

?? ?? ? 2 ? ?

(3.21)

The solution of Eq. (3.21) yields the following non-trivial result:

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (9 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

?

????(?) = √ 4 ≈ 0.886 (3.22)

**and the value of its probability density function is:
**

8

?(????(?)) = ? ? −1 ≈ 0.9368 (3.23)

Table 1 summarizes key descriptive statistics indicators for variable ?.

**Table 1. Descriptive statistics summary of the standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution (?)
**

Mean 1.0000

Median 0.9639

Mode 0.8862

First quartile 0.6900

Third quartile 1.2701

Interquartile range 0.5801

Variance 0.1781

Standard deviation 0.4220

Coefficient of variation 0.4220

4. Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution: Random numbers generation

**Random numbers belonging to the standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution can be obtained
**

from its cumulative probability function, assuming that the cumulative function behaves as a

uniform random number between 0 and 1. The cumulative probability function of ? is given by:

?

32 ? 2 −4?2 4 ? 8 −

4?2

?(?) = ∫ ?(?)?? = ∫ ? ? ? ?? = − ∫ ? ∙ (− ) ?? ? ??

0 ?2 0 ? 0 ?

??

4 4?2 4? 2 4 ? 4?2 4?2

= − [?? − ? | − ∫ ? − ? ??] = [∫ ? − ? ?? − ?? − ? ]

? 0 0 ? 0

(4.1)

4?2

?

Given that the integral ∫0 ? − ? ?? does not have an exact analytical solution, it has to be

solved numerically.

**In order to reduce the computational load of integrating the distribution during the generation
**

of random numbers, the cumulative probability distribution of ? can be approximated by the

following empirical function:

−2.5

?(?) ≈ (0.9974 + 7.326? −3.265? ) − 0.005 (4.2)

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (10 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

**Figure 4 shows the numerical solution of ?(?) as well as the empirical approximation
**

presented in Eq. (4.2).

1

F - Cumulative probability function

0,9

0,8

0,7

0,6

0,5

0,4

0,3

0,2 Numerical solution

0,1 Empirical approximation (Eq. 4.2)

0

0 0,5 1 1,5 2 2,5 3

B - Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann random variable

**Figure 4. Comparison between the cumulative probability function ? for the standard Maxwell-
**

Boltzmann random variable ? (solid line) and the empirical approximation given in Eq. (4.2)

(dotted line).

**Figure 5. Histogram of 10.000 realizations of the standard Maxwell-Boltzmann random variable
**

? using Eq. (4.3), compared to the corresponding probability density function ? (solid line)

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (11 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

From Eq. (4.2) it is now possible to generate random realizations of ? as:

(? + 0.005)−0.4 − 0.9974

?(?) = −0.3063?? ( )

7.326

(4.3)

where ? is a uniform random number between 0 and 1.

Figure 5 shows a histogram of 10.000 random realizations of ? generated from Eq. (4.3).

5. Application Example: Potassium gas in vacuum oven

**As an example of application for the standard Maxwell-Boltzmann variable ?, let us consider
**

the data presented in Figure 1 for the distribution of molecular speeds of potassium gas in a

vacuum oven at 544 K.[1] Previously, it was mentioned that the data resembled the shape of

the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution but the fit was not perfect. In this section, it will be shown

that if the macroscopic flow of gas towards the vacuum pump is considered, the fit of the data

significantly improves. But first, let us determine the average kinetic energy 〈?〉 of the

potassium molecules reaching the detector:

?

〈?〉 = ∑ ?? ??2

2

?

(5.1)

**where ? is the molecular mass (? = 6.493 × 10−26 kg for potassium), and ?? is the relative
**

frequency of molecular speed ?? . For the data presented in Figure 1, the average kinetic

energy of potassium molecules is found to be 1.682 × 10−20 J. If the temperature of the gas is

calculated as:[7]

2〈?〉

?=

3??

(5.2)

**then, the temperature of the gas reaching the detector would be 812 K, which represents an
**

increase in temperature of 268 K, almost 50% higher than the temperature of the oven (544 K).

**Let us now consider that the molecular velocity of the gas (?) is composed by a macroscopic
**

velocity and a fluctuating velocity following a Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution. In that case, the

molecular velocity can be expressed as:

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (12 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

8?? ?

? = 〈?〉 + √ ??

??

(5.3)

**where 〈?〉 is the macroscopic velocity of the gas, and ? is a random unit direction vector. Given
**

that the detector only receives gas molecules in a single direction (?), then it is possible to

conclude that the molecular speed reaching the detector (?? ) is given by:

8?? ?

?? = 〈?〉? + √ ?

??

(5.4)

**Considering that each result (??,? ) measured by the detector corresponds to a single realization
**

(?? ) of ?, then:

8?? ?

??,? = 〈?〉? + √ ?

?? ?

(5.5)

and rearranging Eq. (5.5):

??,? − 〈?〉?

?? =

√8?? ?

??

(5.6)

The value of the probability density function for each particular realization is:

4? ? 2

2 − (? −〈?〉? )

?(?? ) = (??,? − 〈?〉? ) ? 2?? ? ?,? , ?? ≥ 0

??? ?

(5.7)

**There are two unknown variables in this expression: 〈?〉? and ?. A generalized reduced
**

gradient (GRG) nonlinear optimization algorithm,[8] is used for finding the unknown values by

minimizing the square error between the experimental frequencies (adjusted so that the

8 −1

maximum value of the experimental frequency is ?

? , corresponding to the probability

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (13 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

**density function of the mode of ? given by Eq. 3.23) and the probability density function
**

predicted by Eq. (5.7). The results obtained after the optimization are:

〈?〉? = 183.98 ?/? (5.8)

? = 568.9 ? (5.9)

**By this route, the temperature obtained from the experimental molecular speeds is only 4.58%
**

higher than the temperature of the oven, which is within a reasonable experimental error.

**Figure 6 shows the experimental distribution of molecular speeds, compared to the results
**

predicted by Eq. (5.5) using the values obtained in Eq. (5.8) and (5.9).

1,0

0,9 Predicted by Eq. (5.7)

Experimental [1]

Probability density function

0,8

0,7

0,6

0,5

0,4

0,3

0,2

0,1

0,0

0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200

Molecular speed (m/s)

**Figure 6. Predicted (solid line) vs. experimental (data points) distributions of molecular speeds
**

for potassium gas in a vacuum oven at 544 K.

**The flaw behind the initial calculations (Eq. 5.2) is the assumption that the temperature is
**

proportional to the total average kinetic energy of the molecules, whereas only the

contribution of fluctuating velocities to the kinetic energy is related to the temperature of the

system.

**Let us consider again the general expression for the molecular velocity presented in Eq. (5.3).
**

From Eq. (5.3), the total kinetic energy of a molecule becomes2:

2

Neglecting internal motion such as rotation or any type of molecular deformation.

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (14 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

?? ∙ ? ?〈?〉2 8??? ? 4?? ? 2

?= = +√ ? ∙ 〈?〉 ∙ ? + ?

2 2 ? ?

(5.10)

The expected value of the total molecular kinetic energy will then be:

?〈?〉2 3?? ?

?(?) = 〈?〉 = +

2 2

(5.11)

3?

given that ?(?) = ? and ?(?2 ) = 8

. The first term corresponds to the average macroscopic

kinetic energy of the gas 〈?? 〉, whereas the second term corresponds to the average

fluctuating kinetic energy which will be denoted as the average thermal kinetic energy 〈?? 〉.

It is then clear that the temperature is not related to the overall average kinetic energy of the

molecules, but only to their fluctuating component, the thermal component.

6. Conclusion

**Based on the idea of the standard Gaussian distribution, a standard Maxwell-Boltzmann
**

distribution (?) is defined with the purpose of generalizing the properties of the Maxwell-

Boltzmann distribution, and facilitating the analysis of functions involving Maxwell-Boltzmann

random variables, in particular, the speed of molecules. The most important property of such

dimensionless standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution is that its expected value is 1. Random

numbers following a standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution can be easily generated simply

by using an empirical algebraic expression as a function of a uniform random number. By

considering the experimental speeds of potassium gas in a vacuum oven, it was possible to

exemplify the use of the standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution for describing the results. It

was also possible to show that the temperature of a system is a function only of the fluctuating

component of the average molecular kinetic energy, and that the macroscopic kinetic energy

has no effect on temperature.

Acknowledgments

**The author gratefully acknowledges the helpful discussions with Prof. Jaime Aguirre
**

(Universidad Nacional de Colombia).

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (15 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

Standard Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution:

Definition and Properties

Hugo Hernandez

ForsChem Research

hugo.hernandez@forschem.org

**This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public,
**

commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

References

[1] Miller, R. C., & Kusch, P. (1955). Velocity distributions in potassium and thallium atomic

beams. Physical Review, 99(4), 1314.

**[2] Maxwell, J. C. (1860). Illustrations of the dynamical theory of gases. - Part I. On the motions
**

and collisions of perfectly elastic spheres. The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical

Magazine and Journal of Science, 19(124), 19-32.

**[3] Boltzmann, L. (1872). Weitere Studien über das Wärmegleichgewicht unter Gasmolekülen.
**

K. Acad. Wiss.(Wein) Sitzb., II Abt, 66.

**[4] Simon, D. A., & McQuarrie, J. D. (1997). Physical Chemistry: A Molecular Approach.
**

University Science Books.

**[5] Devore, J. L. (2015). Probability and Statistics for Engineering and the Sciences. Cengage
**

Learning.

**[6] H. Hernandez (2016). Modelling the effect of fluctuation in nonlinear systems using variance
**

algebra - Application to light scattering of ideal gases, ForsChem Research Reports, 2016-1, doi:

10.13140/RG.2.2.36501.52969.

**[7] Halliday, D., Walker, J., & Resnick, R. (2010). Fundamentals of Physics, Chapter 21. John Wiley
**

& Sons.

**[8] Lasdon, L. S., Waren, A. D., Jain, A., & Ratner, M. (1978). Design and testing of a generalized
**

reduced gradient code for nonlinear programming. ACM Transactions on Mathematical

Software (TOMS), 4(1), 34-50.

**22/02/2017 ForsChem Research Reports 2017-2 (16 / 16)
**

www.forschem.org

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