Describe the process and a detailed explanation of equilibrium.

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caledon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Equilibrium, in scientific terms, describes one way that a system behaves. It doesn't refer to any system in particular, and so a more detailed phrasing of this question might be "using an example, explain how a system can demonstrate the characteristics of equilibrium".

Equilibrium basically refers to things being equally distributed; they are averaged or evened-out. The problem with this is that it can refer to a variety of different things that are being averaged, such as heat, chemical reaction rates, or concentrations of substances. For example, if we take a sealed room and burn a firelog in it, the heat in the air will probably reach equilibrium before the concentration of ash and smoke do. In terms of chemical reactions the combustion is a one-way reaction that cannot reach equilibrium, because wood cannot be formed out of carbon dioxide and air; this only occurs in the presence of a photosynthetic system. However, all systems are constantly in motion, so it's better to say that equilibrium is all about rates of change being equal than about a system reaching a certain balanced point and then stopping.

In comparison, consider two rooms connected to each other, with 10 people in one room and none in the other. We might be tempted to put 5 people in each room and call that equilibrium, but in fact it's better to say that there are 5 in each room and a 1:1 exchange rate; you can get up from your room and go to the other one, but someone in that room has to swap places with you. This might seem a bit silly in human terms, but it's a necessary specification when talking about atoms because we can't actually stop the atoms from moving around unless we freeze them, and being frozen would prevent the interactions necessary to achieve equilibrium in the first place.

The laws of thermodynamics, and the conditions of the system being evaluated, determine most of the conditions of equilibrium. For example, if we take an "open" system, such as the Earth itself, we should not expect to see equilibrium because there is a constant influx of "new" energy from the sun. On the other hand, in a closed system (which philosophically is impossible to achieve while simultaneously observing it) equilibrium is possible because the available energy will be randomly distributed throughout the system until all areas of high or low concentration are averaged out.

Equilibrium is also important in the more macroscopic sense of biological systems; for example, the human body is constantly experiencing cell death. If the body did not replace these cells at the same rate as they die, it would essentially wither into nothing. On the other hand, if cell creation exceeds cell death, then the body should grow.

rachellopez | Student

Equilibrium is a state of dynamic balance where the ratio of the product and reactant concentrations is constant.

Equilibrium is essentially systems that are balanced or where everything is evenly distributed. Equilibrium systems are in constant motion, reversible, and can be approached from either direction.

In chemistry, equilibrium constants are the ratio of the concentrations of the products to the concentrations of the reactants at equilibrium (a balanced state). Scientists often use ICE tables which track data needed to set up an equation. I stands for initial, C represents change, and E is for equilibrium. 

There are many ways equilibrium can be used, one being to check if all reactants and products are done changing. Chemical Equilibrium could be used when a substance is changing state, formation of cave rocks, etc.

sid-sarfraz | Student



From Latin aequilibrium, from aequus "equal" + libra "a balance, scale, plummet" 


A condition in which all influences acting cancel each other, so that a static or balanced situation results.

A stable condition in which forces cancel one another

A state or feeling of mental balance; composure

Any unchanging condition or state of a body, system, etc, resulting from the balance or canceling out of the influences or processes to which it is subjected.


The state, in which, market supply and demand balance each other and, as a result, prices become stable. Generally, when there is too much supply for goods or services, the price goes down, which results in higher demand. The balancing effect of supply and demand results in a state of equilibrium.

The equilibrium price is where the supply of goods matches demand. When a major index experiences a period of consolidation or sideways momentum, it can be said that the forces of supply and demand are relatively equal and that the market is in a state of equilibrium.


  1. Physics
  2. Chemistry
  3. Medicine
  4. Culture
  5. Economics
  6. Biology
  7. Physiology


  • The whole shebang reaches a kind of balance called hydrostatic equilibrium.
  • After the avalanche a new state of equilibrium is established.
  • Sometimes a bad mix can cause dizziness or a loss of equilibrium.
  • He believed, as the classicists do, that economies reach an equilibrium.
  • The revelation throws off her already-shaky emotional equilibrium.
  • We'll see how long this equilibrium lasts, but it feels good for now.
  • The equilibrium shape of a rotating star--or planet, for that matter--is not a sphere, but rather an flattened oblate spheroid.
  • This equilibrium is observable when atmospheric carbon dioxide is measured.
  • Steve's call upset my equilibrium.
  • Nathanial has reduced the issue, correctly in my opinion, to the basic punctuated equilibrium position.


The state of a body or physical system, that is at rest or in constant and unchanging motion. A system that is in equilibrium shows no tendency to alter over time.

  • Static Equilibrium (If a system is in static equilibrium, there are no net forces and no net torque in the system.
  • Stable Equilibrium (If a system is in stable equilibrium, small disturbances to the system cause only a temporary change before it returns to its original state.


The state of homeostasis within the oral cavity existing when biologic processes and local environmental factors, including the forces of mastication, are in a state of balance.


The condition existing, when a chemical reaction and its reverse reaction take place at equal rates.

 A process in which one or more substances are changed into others; "there was a chemical reaction of the lime with the ground  water"


In economics, a state of the economy in which for every commodity or service (including labor), total supply and demand are exactly equal. Equilibrium is never actually attained; it is approximated by movements of the market.

Note: Keynesian economics departed from conventional economic theory in demonstrating that economic equilibrium and full employment need not occur together. Therefore, as a system tends toward equilibrium, it might not eliminate unemployment.


 The economic condition in which there is neither excess demand nor excess supply in a market.

A situation in which supply and demand are matched and prices stable: the market is in equilibrium.


Characteristics of equilibrium in medicine are as follows:-

  1. A condition in which all influences acting upon it are canceled by others, resulting in a stable, balanced, or unchanging system.
  2. The state of a chemical reaction in which its forward and reverse reactions occur at equal rates so that the concentration of the reactants and products does not change with time. Also called dynamic equilibrium.
  3. Mental or emotional balance.


 State of bodily balance, maintained primarily, by special receptors in the inner ear.

Metabolic equilibrium actively maintained by several complex biological mechanisms that operate via the autonomic nervous system to offset disrupting changes.


State of balance or rest resulting from the equal action of opposing forces such as calcium and phosphorus in the body.


A state of mental or emotional balance.


A point at which the rate of production of a daughter element is equal to the rate of decay of the parent element and the activities of parent and daughter are identical.


MRI term for a state of balance between two opposing forces or divergent spheres of influence.


A state, in which all parts of a system are at the same temperature, is known as thermal equilibrium.


The state of a chemical reaction, in which its forward and reverse reactions, occur at equal rates so that  the concentration of the reactants and products does not change with time.  Also called dynamic equilibrium.


(Game theory) A stable state of a system, that involves several interacting participants in which no participant can gain by a change of strategy as long as all the other participants remain unchanged.


A general equilibrium, of the forces tending to elevate or depress the earth's crust.


 The state of equilibrium in which centrifugal forces due to a rotating mass (e.g., a propeller) do not produce force in the shaft and so vibration is reduced.

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