Revolutions break bottlenecks

July 24, 2020

Part of a series on revolutions.

On this page we define bottlenecks and think about some revolutions that break them.


What is a bottleneck? OED:

a. A place where a road, watercourse, etc., narrows, esp. one on a road where the flow of traffic is impeded. Hence: a part of a route where congestion is caused, usually by a high volume of traffic; (also) a traffic jam.
b. In extended use: a part of a process or system (esp. in business or industry), in which progress is obstructed or delayed.
c. Chiefly Biology. An abrupt and severe reduction in the size of a population caused chiefly or wholly by factors other than natural selection, such as natural disasters or human activity, and resulting in a decrease in genetic variation; an episode during which such a population remains reduced.

For our purposes probably sense 2b is closest, though 2c is also worth thinking about.

Revolutions which break bottlenecks

  • Oxygenic Photosynthesis
  • Fuel revolutions
  • Culture from genes
  • Multicellularity and ribosome
  • Speech/grooming and group size
  • Alcohol and group size

I'm Bryan Kam. I'm thinking about complexity and selfhood. Please sign up to my newsletter or see more here.