### Elementary Steps

Posted:

**Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:55 am**Why is it unlikely that 4 molecules collide simultaneously?

Created by Dr. Laurence Lavelle

https://lavelle.chem.ucla.edu/forum/

https://lavelle.chem.ucla.edu/forum/viewtopic.php?f=151&t=62258

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Posted: **Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:55 am**

Why is it unlikely that 4 molecules collide simultaneously?

Posted: **Fri Mar 13, 2020 12:01 pm**

I believe professor Lavelle provided an example along the lines of something like this:

Imagine there are two students sitting across from each other with the goal to throw their crumpled piece of paper and have them collide mid-air. The likelihood of success is not that low! It's certainly possible that they will crash into each other!

Now imagine there are three students involved... The chance that all three will collide at the same time in the same place is much less...

Now imagine if there were four students... It'll be very difficult -- so the probability of success is even lower!

This is why it's very unlikely that 4 molecules will collide simultaneously.

Imagine there are two students sitting across from each other with the goal to throw their crumpled piece of paper and have them collide mid-air. The likelihood of success is not that low! It's certainly possible that they will crash into each other!

Now imagine there are three students involved... The chance that all three will collide at the same time in the same place is much less...

Now imagine if there were four students... It'll be very difficult -- so the probability of success is even lower!

This is why it's very unlikely that 4 molecules will collide simultaneously.

Posted: **Fri Mar 13, 2020 6:54 pm**

It is about probability. The probability that a specific set of four molecules not only collide at the exact same time, but with enough energy to break and form new bonds. Through a probability lens, these occurrences are unlikely.

Posted: **Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:01 pm**

I think about individual particles travelling in a jar. The chances of 4 particles simultanesouly colliding with each other is far less likely than if 2 particles were to collide with each other.

Posted: **Sat Mar 14, 2020 10:27 am**

what even are elementary steps