Metastable equilibrium

In thermodynamics, a metastable equilibrium, or "metastability", refers to a system that would undergo a large change in its properties when subjected to some small disturbance. An example is gasoline in air, in which a small spark (bringing the system to the height of the activation energy) would cause the system to combust. [1]

Hmolscience
Scholars who discuss metastability in social terms include: Robert Solomon and Mirza Beg.

Animate organisms
American biochemist Albert Lehninger argues that the entropy of living systems cannot be defined in classical thermodynamic terms because such systems are said to not exist at equilibrium, but rather exist in the form of open “metastable states” (or metastable equilibrium). [2] This, of course, contrasts with the Prigogine school who would argue that animate organisms exist in far-from-equilibrium states.

References
1. Potter, Merle C. and Somerton, Craig W. (2009). Schaum's Outlines: Thermodynamics for Engineers (pg. 4). McGraw-Hill.
2. (a) Lehninger, Albert L. (1973). Bioenergetics - the Molecular Basis of Biological Energy Transformations (pg. 1). The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Co.
(b) Nahum, Gerald. (2005). “A Proposal for Testing the Energetics of Consciousness and its Physical Foundation (33-pgs)”, Submitted for review to Consciousness and Cognition.

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