Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Unit 9: Equilibrium and Advanced Thermodynamics—Balance in Chemical Reactions

Section 11: Conclusion

The research on entropy pioneered by Boltzmann led to a radical new understanding of the physical world. All spontaneous processes increase the entropy of the universe; the driving force of the universe is statistical. All chemical reactions, from dissolving the sugar in coffee to the synthesis of DNA, occur because atoms and energy follow the path of increasing entropy.

In this unit, we saw that when a chemical system reaches a point of maximum entropy, it has reached equilibrium. Understanding and influencing equilibria are vital to many aspects of chemistry, including the chemistry of acids and bases, which we will discuss in the next unit.

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