The term "critical mass" seems to have first appeared in nuclear physics. In this discipline, "critical mass" is the minimum amount of a given fissile material necessary to achieve a self-sustaining fission chain reaction. The term, however, is now used as a much broader construct. In astrophysics, for example, critical mass is a concept used to designate any mass that when exceeded causes something to happen. The concept of critical mass exists outside of physics and can easily be thought of as a tipping point. A Tipping Point, according to noted author Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, "is the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point."
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