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Charles' Law Essay

1416 words - 6 pages



Investigating the relationship between the length of a column of air and its temperature in Celsius and by doing so find a value for Absolute Zero


Investigate the relationship between the length of a column of air and its temperature in Celsius and by doing so find a value for Absolute Zero.


Independent Variable
Dependent Variable

Temperature in °C:

1. 21°C
2. 31°C
3. 41°C
4. 51°C
5. 61°C
6. 71°C
7. 81°C

Length of column in mm


Ambient Pressure – 1 Atm

Mass of air

Humidity ...view middle of the document...

Hence 2°C/2 = 1°C

I have put the temperature on the x axis and the length of the column on the y axis since the temperature is the independent variable and the length of the column is the dependent variable and has more significant errors, which is easier to plot on the y axis.

Using the results and data from the graph, the x-intercept of the graph, i.e. the value of absolute zero can be deduced

Line of best fit
Minimum Gradient Graph
Maximum Gradient Graph
Equation (where y=length of column in mm & x=Temperature in °C
y = 0.25x + 36.964
y = 0.2333x + 39.1
Y = 0.3x + 35.7
x value at x-intercept/ °C
- 148
- 125
- 119

y = 0.25x + 35.964 has its x-intercept when y=0
hence, 0 = 0.25x + 35.964
- 0.25x = 35.964
x = 35.964/(-0.25)
x = - 125 °C

Hence, the value of absolute zero deduced from the experiment is as follows;

Absolute Zero = (Maximum Absolute Zero + Minimum Absolute Zero) / 2 ± Uncertainty
= (- 119 – 125)/2 ± 3
= - 122 ± 3 °C

* Uncertainty = (Maximum Absolute Zero + Minimum Absolute Zero)/2
= (-119 + 125)/2
= 6/2 = 3 °C


In conclusion, the results of this experiment show that the graph of the results form a straight line, albeit the result for 81°C could be argued as an anomaly. This is because at high temperatures, such as 71°C and 81°C, the pressure of the gas is higher than normal, which was what I sought to avoid, and thus influence the volume (or the length of the column). If the unit of temperature were to be in Kelvin, the two variables would have been directly proportional. This obeys the Charles’ Law, which states;

The value of absolute zero calculated from the experiment is -122 ± 3 °C. This has a percentage uncertainty of 3/122 × 100 = 2%, which can be suggested that the experiment was precise. However, considering that the accepted value for absolute zero is -273.15°C, the value that I found is very significantly inaccurate. In fact, the percentage error of the value I found from the accepted value is (-273 + 122)/(-273) × 100 = 60 %. This suggests that there were many random and systematic errors.

The biggest source of error in the experiment is the failure to maintain the ambient pressure of the gas inside the glass column. As gas pressure greatly influences the volume (or the length of a capillary column), this would have produced significant random errors, especially across high temperatures. This could be interpreted from the results at 81°C, where the length of the column is slightly higher than the norm.

Another random error comes from human error, since I had to determine the point at which I measure the length of the column. There are two possible human errors that could occur. First, I could have misread the temperature correctly...

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