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The study of critical phenomena and universal power laws has been one of the central advances in statistical mechanics during the second half of the past century, explaining traditional thermodynamic critical points 1 , avalanche behaviour near depinning transitions 2,3 and a wide variety of other phenomena 4. Scaling, universality and the renormalization… (More)

The identification of cancer stem cells in vivo and in vitro relies on specific surface markers that should allow to sort cancer cells in phenotypically distinct subpopulations. Experiments report that sorted cancer cell populations after some time tend to express again all the original markers, leading to the hypothesis of phenotypic switching, according… (More)

We present a pedagogical introduction to self-organized criticality (SOC), unraveling its connections with nonequilibrium phase transitions. There are several paths from a conventional critical point to SOC. They begin with an absorbing-state phase transition (directed percolation is a familiar example), and impose supervision or driving on the system; two… (More)

Under stress, many crystalline materials exhibit irreversible plastic deformation caused by the motion of lattice dislocations. In plastically deformed microcrystals, internal dislocation avalanches lead to jumps in the stress-strain curves (strain bursts), whereas in macroscopic samples plasticity appears as a smooth process. By combining three-dimensional… (More)

We use a phenomenological field theory, reflecting the symmetries and conservation laws of sandpiles, to compare the driven dissipative sandpile, widely studied in the context of self-organized criticality, with the corresponding fixed-energy model. The latter displays an absorbing-state phase transition with upper critical dimension d c = 4. We show that… (More)

We study sandpile models as closed systems, with conserved energy density ζ playing the role of an external parameter. The critical energy density, ζ c , marks a nonequilibrium phase transition between active and absorbing states. Several fixed-energy sandpiles are studied in extensive simulations of stationary and transient properties, as well as the… (More)

We derive an equation of motion for the dynamics of a ferromagnetic domain wall driven by an external magnetic field through a disordered medium, and we study the associated depinning transition. The long-range dipolar interactions set the upper critical dimension to be d c 3, so we suggest that mean-field exponents describe the Barkhausen effect for… (More)

We analyze the power spectra of avalanches in two classes of self-organized critical sandpile models, the Bak-Tang-Wiesenfeld model and the Manna model. We show that these decay with a 1/f α power law, where the exponent value α is significantly smaller than 2 and equals the scaling exponent relating the avalanche size to its duration. We discuss the basic… (More)

We present a unified theory of fracture in disordered brittle media that reconciles apparently conflicting results reported in the literature. Our renormalization group based approach yields a phase diagram in which the percolation fixed point, expected for infinite disorder, is unstable for finite disorder and flows to a zero-disorder nucleation-type fixed… (More)

We discuss the effect of the stationarity on the avalanche statistics of Barkhuasen noise signals. We perform experimental measurements on a Fe 85 B 15 amorphous ribbon and compare the avalanche distributions measured around the coercive field, where the signal is stationary, with those sampled through the entire hysteresis loop. In the first case, we… (More)