12.10 The Equipartition Principle

Degrees of freedom: In the case of a moving body, the separate and independent quantities which need be known to specify the position and configuration of a body completely are called the degrees of freedom of the body.

Examples: A block sliding in a groove has only one degree of freedom. The same block sliding on the surface of a table has two degrees of freedom. A billiard ball rolling on a table has five degrees of freedom, two co-ordinates specifying the position of its centre and three co-ordinates specifying its orientations.

A monatomic gas molecule has only a point mass. It can have motion of translation in any of the three directions, mutually perpendicular to each other. Hence, a monatomic molecule ...

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