posted by George .
My question is 'what does the area under the curve represent?' it's a Maxwell-Boltzmann curve.
My first idea was the number of particles but that's just what the y axis says and surely that wouldn't just mean under the curve.
My second idea was to write that anything before the activation energy line would not have sufficient energy and anything after would.
Any help would be much appreciated.
There is a number of different horizontal axis versions of the Maxwell-Boltzmann probability funcitons. Most often, it is Energy or speed of molecules.
The area underneath must be total energy below some certain energy, or speed. So at the activation energy point, the area would represent the quantity of energy in the material that is below the threshold for activation. The area left to the right, is the amount of energy in the material that meets the threshold or is above it.
Consider water evaporating. The curve for it, consider the horizontal axis to be speed of molecules (or energy, or temperature). Draw a vertical line on the tail, we will call that the speed for the water molecules sufficently great to escape the surface of water, and become gas. So the area above, is the amount of water energy lost in evaporation, thus, the average temperature has to go down in the water remaining (which we observe).
Cumulative area: total energy below some point.