Sunday, 10 June 2012


Nature paper on tipping points in the earth's climate. (I don't know if there is an ungated version.) Here is an interesting paragraph:
Recent theoretical work suggests that state shifts due to fold bifurcations are probably preceded by general phenomena that can be characterized mathematically: a deceleration in recovery from perturbations (‘critical slowing down’), an increase in variance in the pattern of within-state fluctuations, an increase in autocorrelation between fluctuations, an increase in asymmetry of fluctuations and rapid back-and-forth shifts (‘flickering’) between states. These phenomena can theoretically be assessed within any temporally and spatially bounded system. Although such assessment is not yet straightforward, critical transitions and in some cases their warning signs have become evident in diverse biological investigations, for example in assessing the dynamics of disease outbreaks, populations and lake ecosystems. Impending state shifts can also sometimes be determined by parameterizing relatively simple models.
I had no idea there was a science of predicting state shifts... how cool. I wonder if you could apply it to social revolutions.