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Equilibrium Constant

Defines the equilibrium constant and explains how it is useful in chemistry.

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Keeping Balance

Keeping Balance

Credit: Quozl
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Niagara_Falls_March_2008.JPG
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Although there have been others who crossed a portion of Niagara Falls on a tightrope (the first being Jean Francois Gravelet, known as The Great Blondin), the first person to cross the entire span of the falls was Nik Wallenda on June 15, 2012. Using a balance pole weighing 40 pounds, Wallenda made the 1800-foot walk in less than thirty minutes.

Why It Matters

  • During the crossing, Wallenda had to make a constant effort to maintain his balance. Winds were gusting up to 14 miles per hour and the direction was variable, coming at his front and then shifting to his back or side. The wire was slippery and wet, requiring frequent shifts in footing and steps. The balance pole would often tip to one side or the other to maintain Wallenda’s position on the wire.
  • Credit: George Socka
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beachdigital/7681250612/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    The balance bar is very long and heavy, and it helps the walker balance even with high winds [Figure2]


  • Equilibrium is obviously not a static state. Wallenda was in equilibrium with his environment (he didn’t fall off the wire), but he was constantly in motion to maintain balance. The two sides of the “equation” affecting his position were always changing and he had to adjust to those changes to restore balance.
  • Counselors often talk about maintaining balance in our lives. When a big holiday season is approaching, we often get a lot of invitations to parties, dinners, and other gatherings. Our normal everyday routine is disrupted, sometimes in major ways. The challenge is to maintain that equilibrium so that the stresses (invitations in this case) don’t cause us to get way out of balance. We don’t have to go to every party (although there are those who really enjoy doing that).
  • Watch a video of Wallenda’s crossing of Niagara Falls at the link below:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6K-md3VGfoQ

Show What You Know

Use the links below to learn more about equilibrium. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is the value of the equilibrium constant if products are favored in a reaction?
  2. What does the equilibrium constant predict will happen if you add more product to a reaction system?
  3. How does the body maintain the equilibrium between oxygen and hemoglobin at high altitudes?
  4. How is walking an equilibrium situation?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Quozl; Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Niagara_Falls_March_2008.JPG; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: George Socka; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beachdigital/7681250612/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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