Introducing The Ideal Gas Law
During the seventeenth and especially eighteenth centuries, driven both by a desire to understand nature and a quest to make balloons in which they could fly (see the figure below), a number of scientists established the relationships between the macroscopic physical properties of gases, that is, pressure, volume, temperature, and amount of gas.
Although their measurements were not precise by today’s standards, they were able to determine the mathematical relationships between pairs of these variables (e.g., pressure and temperature, pressure and volume) that hold for an ideal gas—a hypothetical construct that real gases approximate under certain conditions.
Eventually, these individual laws were combined into a single equation—the ideal gas law—that relates gas quantities for gases and is quite accurate for low pressures and moderate temperatures. We will consider the key developments in individual relationships (for pedagogical reasons not quite in historical order), then put them together in the ideal gas law.