Day 6: How model thinking helps you in action

One of the models that I was especially attracted to, was the percolation model.  You can see it as some kind of filter system.  For instance a few drops of water will not make the sand in the borders of your garden wet.  Even when we use a hose to water the garden, the water will not penetrate then just a few inches below the surface. And jet, when it has rained all sand is wet, even more than a few inches.

It all hinges among the tipping point. In the picture below fields that have been marked black are wet areas in sand.  You have just come around with the watering can.  Only a few spots are wet:

percolation model 1

Now let us water with a hose:

percolation model 2

This already trickles down better than previously. More sand is wet, but it still cannot be called thoroughly wet by any means.

But then the rain comes:

percolation model 3


Wow, what happened there?  It actually reached the tipping point.  If P is a chance that a square is turned black, and P has a value of 0,592746 then the squares are suddenly filled when it reaches that tipping point. So going from 20% of wet ground to 21% of wet ground has no effect. But going from 59% to 60% suddenly makes the entire ground soaked. It’s like watching your grounded coffee in your coffee filter.  In the beginning of the water just and drops without that much result. But suddenly you see the entire filter getting waterlogged all of a sudden.

Same goes with forest fires, if the trees are planted with a certain density, a forest fire will ruin the entire area.  While if they are dispersed with a gradient lower than 60%, there is a lower chance that all is burned to ash.  Also the banks and their links between each other can now be seen with this model, if one falls will it be able to take down others in their fall too? The density of communication between banks is used to assess this. The government did not provide any help to Lehman Brothers, but did present a huge amount money to Goldman Sachs. Lehman Brothers could fall, Goldman Sachs was so intertwined, they could not fall, otherwise the entire floor of all banks would be soaked, so to speak.

What about break troughs in science? Although heavily debated still, we do see that the printing press suddenly emerges in different parts of the world. During the industrial revolution all fields of work made the production of stuff in bulk possible. The light bulb was not just invented by Edison who became famous for it, also in other parts of the world a certain kind of light was created (some worked more effective than others). It was the status of knowledge at the end of the 19th century that made it possible for all those inventions to suddenly move the world forwards. The tipping point of knowledge was reached to make the Victorian era the times of advanced engineering and technology.

But where is the action item, I hear you say.  Well, did you ever notice that suddenly you reached the epiphany of getting the thing you were learning about? You pumped, stamped and hammered information into your brain without any inkling of a spark of brilliance that made you understand what it was that you wanted to learn. And then all of a sudden (harp music if you please) you get the EUREKA moment, the sudden insight, the bright light that makes you understand the subject. And you know what: you can’t image why you did not get it before!! Why did you first just stared at the problem you need to understand and then suddenly the solution hits you??

Well we have here a percolation model!!! Your brain just reached the tipping point, it received sufficient information that you got what you supposed to get! So now finally on with the to do’s:

To do’s

  • Note down a recent epiphany you had.
  • Try to deduct when you got the thing.
  • And then onward with the most important action item: what do you think you need to shorten the time it takes for the Eureka moment to hit you (is in more information on the subject, information in different formats, more tests, it can be anything that relates to what happened just before you got the epiphany).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *