Saturday, April 22, 2006

Spontaneous symmetry breaking

Spontaneous symmetry breaking is a more general and scientific term for what is often called a tipping point. Wikipedia:
A common example to help explain this phenomenon is a ball sitting on top of a hill. This ball is in a completely symmetric state. However, it is not a stable one: the ball can easily roll down the hill. At some point, the ball will spontaneously roll down the hill in one direction or another. The symmetry has been broken because the direction the ball rolled down in has now been singled out from other directions.
These two scenarios for an early end to the Bush presidency existed until the last election, when spontaneous symmetry breaking took place, and one was eliminated. Ever since it’s all been downhill, with possible impeachment at the bottom. One out of two ain’t bad.

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