Accumulating critical quantity Attaining threshold value
Attaining the minimum amount of a given material or energy necessary to achieve a self-sustaining chain reaction under specified conditions.
The term originated in nuclear physics in connection with the amount of fissile material necessary to sustain a fission chain reaction. It may also be used, by analogy, to refer to the quantity of funds, people, information, [etc] which must necessarily be assembled before the intensity, variety, and quality of communication in the social subsystem so created is sufficient to maintain mutually stimulating social processes and for the participants to be able to function innovatively and productively -- [eg] the critical number of researchers to constitute an innovative research team; of change agents, to sustain a development process; of artists, to constitute a viable artistic community [etc].
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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