Meet our chemist, Harriet.
She has a chemical reaction that needs to occur more quickly.
A chemist has some processes at her disposal
that can help her speed up her reaction,
and she knows of five ways.
And to remember them she thinks back to her days
as a high school student,
and the day she got a date for the dance.
Harriet was in high school, studying between classes.
She had lost track of time and was going to be late to class.
Unbeknownst to her, Harold, who was just around the corner, was running late too.
They both sprinted to class,
and as it happened, sprinted directly into one another.
Now, this was no small collision.
They ran squarely into one another in such a way that he knocked the books right out of her hand.
"I’m sorry," he said. "Let me help you with your books."
He kindly helped her re-collect her belongings,
and politely offered to walk her to class.
And you’ll never guess who went together to the dance later that year.
Yup, those two.
So, as we can see from this example,
the key to getting a date for the dance
is to collide with someone and knock the books out of their hands.
Now, you’re probably already aware that not all collisions lead to dates for the dance,
The collisions must have two important characteristics:
One, correct orientation that allows books to be knocked from one’s hands,
and two, enough energy to knock the books out.
Shortly after this incident,
Harriet decided to tell me, her chemistry teacher, all about it.
I noticed some interesting parallels
between her story and chemical reaction rates,
which happened to be what she was studying in the hallway the day of the collision.
Together we decided to set out on two missions.
Harriet wanted to help all chemistry students
and chemists remember how to speed up the rate of chemical reactions,
and I, being the nice guy that I am, decided to make it my mission
to help create educational environments
in which more book-dropping collisions can take place
to increase future chemists’ chances
of getting a date for the dance.
In order to facilitate this improved dance/date-getting process,
I propose five changes to all schools
that parallel Harriet’s five ways to increase chemical reaction rates.
First, I propose that we shrink the size of the hallways.
This will make it more difficult to safely navigate the hallways,
and will cause more collisions than in larger hallways.
And by increasing the number of collisions, we increase the likelihood
that some of those collisions will have the correct alignment
and enough energy to create a date to the dance.
Now, chemically speaking, this is equivalent
to lowering the volume of a reaction vessel or a reaction mixture.
In doing so, the individual particles are closer together,
and more collisions will occur.
More collisions means a greater likelihood that
collisions with the appropriate energy and configuration will happen.
Second, I propose increasing the overall population of the school.
More students equals more collisions.
By increasing the number of particles available for collision,
we create an environment where more collisions can take place.
Third, we must reduce the time allowed between classes.
Heck, let’s just cut it in half.
In doing so, students will need to move more quickly to get from one class to the next.
This increase in velocity will help make sure collisions have the
appropriate amount of energy necessary to ensure book-dropping.
This is analogous to increasing the temperature
of the reaction mixture.
Higher temperature means particles are moving faster.
Faster moving particles means more energy,
and a greater likelihood of the reaction causing collision.
Fourth, students must stop traveling in packs.
By traveling in packs, the students on the outside of the pack
insulate those in the middle from undergoing any collisions.
By splitting up, each student has more area exposed
that is available for a collision from a passing student.
When particles travel in packs,
the surface area is very small, and only the outside particles can collide.
However, by breaking up the clumps into individual particles.
The total surface area is increased,
and each particle has an exposed surface that can react.
Fifth and finally, we hire a matchmaker.
Is this colliding and book-dropping too violent?
Is there an easier way to get a date that requires less initial energy?
Then a matchmaker will help with this.
The matchmaker makes it easier for a couple to get together
by coordinating the match.
Our matchmaker is like a catalyst.
Chemical catalysts function by lowering the activation energy.
In other words, by lowering the energy required to start a reaction.
They do this by bringing two particles together
and orienting them correctly in space so that the two can meet
at the correct configuration and allow a reaction to take place.
So, to sum up:
If a future chemist wants a date for the dance,
he must collide with another person and knock the books out of their hands.
And if a chemist wants to make a chemical reaction occur,
the particles must collide in the correct orientation
with an appropriate amount of energy.
And both of these processes can be accelerated using the five methods I’ve described.