The object of the popular Rubik’s cube puzzle is to rotate the pieces until each side of the cube is one of the six solid colors. It’s not easy. Now imagine trying to do it blindfolded—randomly turning the pieces this way and that way. Do you think you would ever solve it? It is highly unlikely that would ever be the case. In nature, randomness or disorder is the more natural state of things. It takes energy, hard work, and perseverance, to put things in order. Disorder is also preferable in chemical systems and is one of the keys, along with energy, to determining whether reactions and other processes are likely to occur at all. In this chapter, you will learn about the thermodynamic quantities of entropy and free energy, and their relationship to chemical reactivity.
Opening image courtesy of Sonny Abesamis (Flickr: avrene). www.flickr.com/photos/enerva/8669121231/. CC-BY 2.0.