Scale Invariance

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In physics and mathematics, scale invariance is a feature of objects or laws that do not change if length or some other dimensional attribute are increased or decreased by a common factor. The technical term for this transformation is a dilatation (also known as dilation), and the dilatations can also form part of a larger conformal symmetry.[1]

Discussion Materials

John Robb on Resilient Communities and Scale Invariance

  • "Essentially, scale invariance means that across all scaling factors (large, medium, small, tiny, etc.), the properties that define the whole are conserved (intelligence, mobility, form, productivity, etc.).

Scale invariance is a requirement for societal resilience." [2]

  • "Here's why. Our global system is composed of intermeshed and tightly coupled networks. These interlinked networks enable our system to be efficient and relatively robust against random shocks. However, large shocks can overwhelm this type of network design, causing it to either act erratically (turbulence) or break apart (into smaller clusters via cascades of failure). We saw systemic turbulence in action via the recent brush with a global financial meltdown in September 2008 and we are seeing it currently with erratic swings in markets, trade, and other forms of economic activity. Examples of network failures that result in disconnected clusters are seen with every black-out in the electricity network. A pandemic would be a mix of the two, intentional clustering (quarantines) and high turbulence."[3]
  • "In either case, system recovery could be catalyzed and the damage largely mitigated, if our global system was scale invariant. Basically, this means that if we had communities that could produce at the local level many of the essential products and services currently produced at the global level, handling disconnection or buffering turbulence would be of little consequence (also, it would be much easier for us to find ways of protecting or making redundant the products/services that ONLY could be produced at the global level). Fortunately, particularly given the substantial uptick in dynamic instability at the global level, we are seeing movement towards scale invariant resilient communities. These communities can and would be able to operate autonomously regardless of availability, pricing, or quality of external goods/services for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, this movement may not spread quickly enough to provide any meaningful support to those communities that are utterly dependent on the smooth functioning of the global system."[4]

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