Charles Law and Examples/Applications in Real Life

October 29, 2013

Charles law

Charles law is credited to Jacques Charles (1746 to 1823) who invented the first hydrogen balloon and was also the first to fly on one with a co-pilot.

What is Charles law?

The Charles law states that the volume of a gas will increase as the temperature increases provided that the pressure remains constant.

Can you now fathom how Jacques Charles discovered Charles law which is named after him and is now studied as a science topic?

The Story behind Charles Law

Jacques Charles conducted an experiment in which 5 balloons, each containing a different gas at the same volume, were heated to the same temperature of 80 degrees Celsius.  He found that they all expanded uniformly.  This experiment was mentioned in a paper published by Guy-Lussac and credited to Jacques Charles.

Examples/Applications in Real Life

Have you observed Charles law in action in real life?   Imagine that you are playing with a helium balloon with other children in a warm and comfortable room on a cold winter day.  What will happen when you take the helium balloon outside?  Yes, it will shrink due to the colder temperature outside as per Charles law.  Shrinking can also be observed if a football is taken out from a very warm room and exposed to cold temperatures.

What about our own human lung capacity?  Do you think it is easier for you to do jogging on a freezing winter day or on a warm summer day?  The human lung capacity will also decrease in colder weather and may make it more difficult for athletes to perform to their optimum levels in such weather.

Charles law also comes into play in the baking of bread or cake.  Do you know how?  During baking, the yeast used gives off carbon dioxide gas bubbles which expand further due to the rising temperature and cause the baking bread or cake to rise and become fluffy.

Charles law also comes into the picture in gasoline-powered automobiles.  When the gasoline is ignited and the fuel burns during the running of an automobile, the temperature increases and tremendous amount of heat is released.  The expansion of the combustion gases then moves the pistons and turns the crankshaft which in turn powers the automobile.

photo credit: lisabatty via photopin cc

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