|Generic potential energy diagram showing the effect of a catalyst in a hypothetical exergonic chemical reaction X + Y to give Z. The presence of the catalyst opens a different reaction pathway (shown in red) with a lower activation energy. The final result and the overall thermodynamics ΔG are the same.|
|Steps of the Haber process, showing an iron surface (embedded with oxides) acting as a catalyst to the reaction of hydrogen with nitrogen to form ammonia. |
See main: Human catalyst; Gavrilo PrincipThe identification of what constitutes a “catalyst” in the process of a human chemical reaction is an advanced subject. The basic model, however, divides the matter of the biosphere into divisional categories: of reactive matter (e.g. human molecules), nutritive matter (e.g. an apple), substrate matter (e.g. the plot of land to a house), and catalytic matter (e.g. a television).  These tentative divisions, to note, serve only as crude guidelines, and where correctly each specific reaction must be studied in detail to determine the energy components effecting the human interactions.
“Ostwald talks of the possible new catalytic action of some new mind”— Henry Adams (1910), “Letter to Barrett Wendell”, May 18
“Speculators on the market play the same role as catalysts in chemistry. By buying when there is a tendency toward a rise in process, they hasten the change in the price. This bring the market into that state of equilibrium corresponding to the new conditions. Thy thus prevent the formation of false equilibria.”References— Jacques Rueff (1922), From the Physical to the Social Science