Y2K will be logarithmic not straight line 1-10 scale

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The fixation of almost everyone on the straight line 1-10 Y2K scale has botherd me for over a year because the majority of events we encounter do not happen that way. Rather, things go along with little change for a while and then begin to change at an accelerating rate. In other words, most things happen logarithmically or for the log challenged, change at a geometric or exponential rate.

Each of the events on the 1-10 scale, plus thousands of other events, each with its own rate of change, have the potential to cause collapse. Ed referred to this concept in the case of programming when he spoke of mean time between failure and mean time before repair in his essays.

The non-linear nature of most failures is shown by the companies that have recently gone bankrupt, approached insolency or lost sales to computer problems. In every case, the companies continued for substantial periods of time before hitting the wall.

A more graphic picture is to think about a nuke meltdown. A meltdown begins slowly and the accelerates. The meltdown does not follow a straight line but rather the hotter it gets, the faster it goes and the faster it goes, the hotter it gets and so on.

The point I am stressing is to stop viewing the outcome of Y2K as a straight line where A has to fail followed by the failure of B (for example going from a "2" to a "3"). The reality is that EACH AND EVERY PROBLEM related to Y2k that you can think of has the POTENTIAL, INDIVIDUALLY to crash society. They will each go at their own rate and that rate is not a straight line.

The crash, if it comes (when it comes), will occur abruptly with little warning because it (they) will occur in a non-linear fashion. Quite simply, a "2" could trun into a "9" overnight.

Even though it is late in the game, I'm bringing this up now because there have been so many references to 1-10 on TB2000 lately.

Todd

-- Todd Detzel (detzel@jps.net), December 16, 1999

Todd -

Well said.

Regards,

-- trouble (we're@inforit.com), December 16, 1999.

Well said, but dat don't mean the toast is any lighter!

Toasted Kook

-- Y2Kook (Y2Kook@usa.net), December 16, 1999.

The 1 - 10 scale IS logarithmic, in the same way that the decibel sound intensity scale or the earthquake intensity Richter scale is. The energy from (2) 60-decibel sounds adds up to 63 decibels worth of energy, if I remember correctly, so 70 decibels is a LOT louder than 60. Going from a 3 to a 4 in the effects of Y2K is much less of a big deal than is going from, say, an 8.5 to a 9.5. Everyone here does understand this, yes?

www.y2ksafeminnesota.com

-- MinnesotaSmith (y2ksafeminnesota@hotmail.com), December 16, 1999.

In chemistry there is a phenomenon called autocatalysis. This occurs when the product of a reaction accelerates the reaction (acts as a catalyst). The reaction rate causes an increasing reaction rate. The rest is obvious. I figure in the stores, as soon as they start running out of one thing (rice, water, canned food, etc.) then people will respond by making sure they go get plenty of that other thing. The acceleration is obvious.

-- Dave (aaa@aaa.com), December 16, 1999.

Well, a two can turn into a nine just as a fever of 100 degrees can turn into a fever of 104. But if the fever is right now this minute 100 degrees, that's what we say. We don't say it's some percentage of some other fever that it might hypothetically become.

The 1-10 scale (when defined by the corresponding narrations) is simply a rough measure of impact at any one time. A two in early January might be a nine by March and a ten by June. When people speak of a single number, I expect they mean the worst spot on the curve that they personally envision. If they say "ten", it doesn't mean everything's toast 1/1/2000 and stays that way until (say) 6/30/2005, at which point everything's fine again.

For a formal definition of the scale, see a related thread

-- bw (home@puget.sound), December 16, 1999.

Dave,

I spent more years then I care to remember in the chemical industry (polymers)both in process development and as a plant manager. You probably know about exothermic reactions...most people don't.

Folks, Y2K will not be not straight line. Again, any one of the bad things has the capability to bring it all down. And, bring it all down fast. Dave probably knows about "venting" a batch.

I'll check things out on TB2000 later and make a better reply. I live in a very rural area and I'm pumping up our (and rental) water tanks right now...a usual activity. That's living in the boondocks. I put in a PV system for Y2K and I have to pump while the sun is out.

Todd

-- Todd Detzel (detzel@jps.net), December 16, 1999.

I don't see any new posts so I'll jujst discontinue this thread. The 1-10 scale shows more and more bad things but it ignores the fact that each area has the potential to crash the system. Nor is it really a log scale.

todd

-- Todd Detzel (detzel@jps.net), December 16, 1999.

These arguments all assume positive feedback. This assumption leads to some interesting conclusions:

1) When people have problems, they attempt to make them worse rather than solve them.

2) When programmers find bugs, it inspires them to write more bugs rather than fix the existing bugs.

3) When companies go out of business, their customers start *selling* the goods and services those businesses sold, rather than moving to a competitor or starting a new business.

4) When floods threaten, people start tearing levees down rather than building them up.

Well, something is fundamentally wrong with the positive feedback assumption. When the economic pendulum swings further from center, economic forces increase to push it *back* towards center, they don't increase to make the pendulum "fall up" even harder.

There are chain reactions, yes. But when they start, all effort is made to stop them, or redirect them, or stifle them somehow. The nonlinearity we're talking about here isn't a catalyzed reaction. Instead, it's called regression to the mean.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), December 16, 1999.

The logarithmic function is the bell curve stretched across the x- axis; the 1-10 is the highest point on that curve, or the y-axis. Some persons include a z-xis, which is time, and allows for the synergistic effect or "domino". I wonder what the 3-D graph would look like?

-- Hokie (nn@va.com), December 16, 1999.

Hokie,

"I wonder what the 3-D graph would look like?" Something like the Rocky Mountains?

-- Choirboy (choirboy@hellzchoir.edu), December 17, 1999.