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The Kinetic Theory of Matter
The zeroth law of thermodynamics gives us a macroscopic (large scale) definition of the concept of the temperature of a body.
The kinetic theory of matter can be used to give a microscopic definition of temperature.  
The basic ideas of the kinetic theory are:  
1. all matter consists of particles (atoms or molecules) in motion  
2. as the temperature increases, the average speed of the particles increases.  
   
According to this theory, the temperature of a body is a measure of the average kinetic energy of it particles.  
   
The theory also attempts to explain the differences between solids, liquids and gases.  
   
Solids  
 
The particles in solids vibrate around fixed positions.  
As a result of their relatively small amplitudes of oscillation, the particles remain close together and so attract each other strongly.  
This explains why solids maintain their shape.  
Most solids, when heated, will eventually become liquid.
   
Liquids  
 
The particles in liquids are more energetic than those in solids.  
The particles are still quite close together but now have amplitudes of oscillation just great enough to allow them to "change places" with each other.  
This explains why liquids can flow.  
   
Gases  
 
The particles of gases (usually molecules) have been given enough energy to allow them to break free of the bonds binding them together (cue a famous song by Queen...)  
The average distance between particles is typically 10 times greater (at normal atmospheric pressure) than in solids and liquids.  
The particles now move freely at random, occupying all the space available to them.  
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