Throughout much of this book we have emphasized the description of a system in terms of an equilibrium state. This approach is invaluable when we are beginning study and are not exactly sure what the elements and linkages are that make up the rules of the system under study. Still, it seems to be a compulsive pulse-taking that is stodgy. We really want to get to the visceral issue, the focus of our curiosity. What are the details of how it works; what are the wheels and gears of the system? That question is not always easily answered, and, as we will see in the following section, is often approached using the thermodynamic tools we have already discussed. After all, knowing how the wheels and gears are arranged is invaluable when trying to understand how a machine works. However, the joy in it really comes from watching it in motion. For example, it is almost impossible to appreciate how the gears, valves, lifters, and cylinders in an internal combustion engine work without watching the thing go around. Observing a system move between states and discovering the path it takes to get there is the job of kinetics. Given the example of the engine, it seems likely that thermodynamic and kinetic analysis will be connected in some integrated fashion. We will find this to be true. Our task is to learn how we can capture the motion of a system’s machinery and learn from these motions: How does it do that?
KeywordsTransition State Partition Function Saddle Point Potential Energy Surface Chemical Kinetic
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