spring break perspective

From the relaxed energy well of spring break, we (professors and our students) sit at a local minimum in an intermediate state of stability. We can look back along the energy diagram path that brought us here, up and up and up to where our most recent transition state must surely be, but we cannot see that apex, a point where the first derivative of the semester energy function (and thus the slope of its tangent) equaled zero; we have slid down so fast. We remember that unstable transition state position as a sleepless, foodless, chaotic time of breaking and forming bonds, when we peered over the edge of the drop that brought us here. In our current spring break intermediate state, we are well-rested, fed, and relaxed, hence stable. If we dared to peek ahead to the next transition state, we’d see it has a much higher activation energy than the last TS, and there is no hope of seeing beyond it to the end of the semester, though we know the river of time will drag us there kicking and fighting to keep our heads above water.


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