Monthly Archives: September 2009

Detecting Upcoming Tipping Points?

Wired Magazine has a story on an intriguing advancement in natural sciences: The possibility that research may be drawing closer to an understanding of critical thresholds, so-called tipping points, that seem like part of a continuum in passing, yet with hindsight can be identified as key indicators of the starting of a new direction for a process. Examples include dramatic climate changes after longer, steady developments, as well as index behaviors in stock markets. With Heinz von Foerster, it could be speculated that these critical thresholds mark the overtaking of a process by a new “Eigen-Value”, a distinctive value determining the development of the process. If indeed such Eigen-Values exist for a number of very different processes, then could it be possible that new Eigen-Values are foreseeable by recognizable changes in patterns within the process, as Steve Carpenter and his team at the University of Wisconsin suspect?
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