Punctuated Equilibria and Self-Organized Criticality

Per Bak (Brookhaven National Lab)

The dynamics of complex systems in nature often occurs in terms of punctuations, or avalanches, rather than following a smooth gradual path. Earthquakes, stock market crashes, and mass extinctions in biology are examples of this turbulent behavior. It will be argued that this is a consequence of self-organized criticality, the process by which large dynamical systems evolve to a state with no characteristic time or length scale.