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In air of considerable density the mean free path of a molecule, between its collisions with other molecules, is exceedingly small, and any such increase of gaseous pressure in front of the black surface would be immediately neutralized by flow of the gas from places of high to places of low pressure.

Reynolds, in his investigation, introducing no new form of law of distribution of velocities, uses a linear quantity, proportional to the mean free path of the gaseous molecules, which he takes to represent (somewhat roughly) the average distance from which molecules directly affect, by their convection, the state of the medium; the gas not being uniform on account of the gradient of temperature, the change going on at each point is calculated from the elements contributed by the parts at this particular distance in all directions.

Increased density at the same temperature means in the first place a reduction of the average distance between the molecules, but it means also a reduction in the mean free path and an increase in the number of impacts.

on the " mean free path "), and (3) on the average velocity of translation of the molecules, which varies as the square root of the temperature.

This, at first sight, paradoxical result is explained by the fact that the mean free path of each molecule increases in the same proportion as the density is diminished, so that as the number of molecules crossing each square centimetre decreases, the distance to which each carries its momentum increases, and the total transfer of momentum is unaffected by variation of density.