Social activation energy

Social Physics (Gladwell) WWI (labeled)
American writer Malcolm Gladwell’s iconic 2001 “tipping point” match image; possibly inspired from the string of burning matches on Mark Buchanan’s 2000 Ubiquity: Why Catastrophes Happen, both of which allude, seemingly via allegory, Buchanan more directly than Gladwell, , e.g. Buchanan’s assertion that the “forces” behind the nineteen-year-old Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Serbian terrorist organization Black Hand, acting or “working” to pull the trigger of a gun pointed at Austro-Hungarian archduke Franz Ferdinand, thereby “tipping” history into WWI and then WII, to the premise that small but significant social heat like triggers work or act as social activation energy barrier surmounters, i.e. the embodiment of the process when the heat of friction, of striking a match works, triggers the activation energy barrier to combustion thus lighting the match into flame.
In hmolscience, social activation energy is the energy required to activate a social reaction, e.g. a human chemical reaction, social chemical reaction, male-female reaction, etc.; concept of activation energy applied socially, in short.

In 1858, Henry Carey, in his The Principles of Social Science, chapter 8, ‘On the Formation of Society’, outlined some proto-ideas on activation energy in society, as follows:

“In the inorganic world we find the power of combination growing with the increase of differences. Place a thousand atoms of oxygen in a receiver, and they will remain motionless; but introduce a single atom of carbon, and excite their affinities for each other, and at once motion will be produced. Such being the case in regard to all other matter, it must be so in regard to those combinations in which man is concerned, indicated by the term society.”

Carey goes onto talk about social heat, social friction, e.g. the rubbing together of human molecules or social molecules, etc.

In 1912, Alfred Lotka, in his “Evolution in Discontinuous Systems”, began to theorize about trigger action, in what seems to have been his physical chemistry conception of activation energy in process and mechanisms of evolution. [1]

In 1925, German political leader, Adolf Hitler, in his My Struggle (Mein Kampf), employed thermal word logic, to speak of words as having the ability to trigger the activation energy of people akin to a torch starting a forest fire amid dry forest wood: [2]

“All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless goddess of distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.”

Here we see Hitler conceptualizing the “spoken word” as something that can act like an activation energy lowering factor to the triggering of a large scale social chemical reaction, the way a match can ignite wood or gasoline in a combustion reaction. Indian-born Pakistani organometallic chemist Mirza Beg outlined a similar speech heat theory, in respect to the period shortly before the riots and manslaughter of Direct Action Day (16 Aug 1946), as follows: [3]

“The speeches made by Hindu extremists generated high heat in their society. Their emotions were set so high as to interact with violent force with the Muslims and this led to widespread riots, killings, arson and looting.”

This, supposedly, was one of the reaction mechanism steps that led to India and Pakistan to becoming independent and self-governing, in the so-called timeline of British India. (Ѻ)

In 2007, American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims, in his Human Chemistry, theorized a good deal about activation energy, socially and inter-personally. [5]

In 2009, Miao Ning and Jifa Gu, “Research on Social Stability Mechanisms Based on Activation Energy and Gradual Activation Reaction Theory” (abs), theorized about social activation energy; the abstract of which is as follows: [4]

“This paper draws a comparison between social stability and chemical reaction process, and brings forward the concept of ‘social temperature’ and ‘activation energy of social agent’. It is considered that social temperature turns out to be the macro symptom of social average energy, and its unceasing up-climbing roots in the energy accumulation of ‘inferiorization’ process of social system; that ‘activation energy of social agent’ stands for the social energy or temperature where individuals or groups reach the limit of their psychological bearing ability. This paper, basing on above concepts, elaborates on and demonstrates the gradual activation reaction mechanisms of social stability by a lot of concrete examples. It is thought that there is a threshold value for social stability, and the society will be unstable if social temperature goes higher than this value; that the larger the social average activation energy is, the higher the temperature threshold value of social stability will be; and considering that different groups have different activation energy, those fragile groups with low activation energy are often the risk source which might pose a threat to social stability.”

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Activation energy
An image from the 2010 video "Activation Energy and Relationships" (V) , illustrating a social activation energy diagram, by Libb Thims', showing the activation energy of a male-female reaction.

In 2010, Thims published an "Activation Energy and Relationships" video, using a social activation energy diagram, shown adjacent.

In 2011, Zane Claes, in his “Activation Energy: the Science of Getting Started”, defined people as “chemical beings”, and applied activation energy to humans and motivations, to theorize about what he referred to as “motivational activation energy”, according to which certain things, e.g. planning, can act as catalysts to lower the activation energy barrier. [6]

In 2015, Manning Jiang Jing Huang Yuan (马宁姜景黄远), of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in his “Social Governance and Social Activation” (Ѻ), was theorizing about “social activation energy” and government, wherein he theorizes that they can quantify “normal states” and “excited states” of societies around China, and thereby measure social activation energies in society, upon which he suggests the following to the government:

“The government needs to work from the following three aspects: continue solid job and maintain the normal state of society, ease the social conflicts and weaken the social excited state, and guide the public opinion and lower the social activation energy.”

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1. (a) Lotka, Alfred. (1912). “Evolution in Discontinuous Systems” (pg. 71), Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, Vol. 2.
(b) Guilleminot, Hyacinthe. (1919). Matter and Life (La Matiere et la Vie) (pg. 115). Flammarion.
(c) Johnstone, John. (1921). The Mechanism of Life (pg. 49). Liverpool.
2. Hitler, Adolf. (1925). Mein Kampf, Volume 1 (ch. 3) (Ѻ). Publisher.
3. Beg, Mirza Arshad Ali. (1987). New Dimensions in Sociology: a Physico-Chemical Approach to Human Behavior (abs) (intro) (speeches, pg. 107). Karachi: The Hamdard Foundation.
4. Ning, Miao. and Gu, Jifa. (2009). “Research on Social Stability Mechanisms Based on Activation Energy and Gradual Activation Reaction Theory”, in: Complex Sciences: First International Conference, Complex 2009 Shanghai, China, Feb 23-25, Revised Papers, Part 2 (editor: Jie Zhou) (social activation energy, pg. 2322). Springer.
5. (a) Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume One). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
(b) Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume Two). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
6. Claes, Zane. (2011). “Activation Energy: the Science of Getting Started” (Ѻ),, Sep 23.

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