“As kids, we all had the fun of going to the beach and playing in the sand. Remember taking your plastic bucket and making sandpiles? Slowly pouring the sand into ever bigger piles until one side of the pile starts to collapse? Imagine, Buchanan says, dropping one grain of sand after another onto a table. A pile soon develops. Eventually, just one grain starts an avalanche. Most of the time, it’s a small one. But sometimes, it builds up, and it seems like one whole side of the pile slides down to the bottom.”
USAGOLD note: We referenced this timely and fascinating analysis from long-time big picture analyst John Mauldin in Monday’s DMR and repost it here for those who may have missed it. So why would the story of the last grain of sand hitting the pile before it begins to dissemble be important? “The peculiar and exceptionally unstable organization of the critical state,” says Mark Buchanan who wrote a book on catastrophes of all kinds, “does indeed seem to be ubiquitous in our world. Researchers in the past few years have found its mathematical fingerprints in the workings of all the upheavals I’ve mentioned so far [earthquakes, eco-disasters, market crashes], as well as in the spreading of epidemics, the flaring of traffic jams, the patterns by which instructions trickle down from managers to workers in the office, and in many other things.” There comes a breaking point a which time the result is uncontrollable.
Photo attribution: Matemateca (IME USP) / Object made by Estes Objethos Atelier, photo by Rodrigo Tetsuo Argenton, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons