Metastable Systems

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A metastable system is one that exists in a delicate equilibrium between stability and change. Though metastable systems may appear stable, small fluctuations can trigger significant transformations in their state or structure. Metastability is an important concept across numerous fields.

The key characteristics of metastable systems include:

  • Existence in a precarious balance point far from thermal equilibrium
  • Potential for great latent energy
  • Displays both solid and liquid characteristics
  • Transitions to a more stable state under sufficient external perturbation
  • Metastable systems are widespread in nature and technology. Subtle shifts in conditions can cause rapid phase transitions from the metastable regime to a stable equilibrium.


  • Supersaturated solutions - Exist in precarious balance with more solute than they can normally dissolve. Slight disturbances lead to rapid precipitation.
  • Amorphous solids - Possess the mechanical properties of a solid but the disorderly structure of a liquid. May spontaneously crystallize.
  • Social movements - Appear stable but subject to rapid mobilization given catalyzing events. E.g. Arab Spring revolutions.
  • Magnetization - Magnetized materials are stuck between two energy minimums. Small fluctuations cause transitions between polarity states.

Related Reading

  • Ball, P. (1999). The Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation in Nature. Oxford University Press.
  • Gladwell, M. (2000). The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Little, Brown.
  • Prigogine, I. & Stengers, I. (1984). Order out of Chaos: Man's New Dialogue with Nature. Bantam Books.
  • Schelling, T. (1978). Micromotives and Macrobehavior. Norton.


This wiki category lists pages that include content co-created by humans and large language models (LLMs) like Claude. The pages in this section are products of a hybrid human-artificial intelligence collective.

The lines between human contributions and LLM contributions blur, pointing to an increasingly integrated sociotechnical system. LLMs like Claude augment human abilities and cognition in a symbiotic editing process.

The very existence of this section speaks to a cyborgian relationship between humans and intelligent machines. In most instances, these pages have been heavily edited or created by human direction, with LLMs acting alongside the human to improve spelling, grammer, flow, and the shape of ideas. The main author of this wiki has dyslexia, and often struggles in writing articles that flow and make sense to readers. LLMs can help disentangle these concepts and re-organize them in a way that can make better sense to readers. In this way, the LLMs are working alongside the human writer, acting as tools used by an expert, rather than doing the originating work of the content writing itself.

From the perspectives of cyborg anthropology, cybernetics, Calm Technology, and alongside technology, this human-AI co-creation reflects new forms of communication, creativity, and cognition. The human and LLM operate in a feedback loop, building on each other's ideas in a collaborative dance. The resulting pages become emergent order, reflecting harmonious human-computer partnership.

Further Reading

To learn more about the changing relationship between humans and AI, explore these topics: