The theory of unfoldings of singularities, or ‘elementary catastrophe theory’ (Thom(10), Poston and Stewart(9), Golubitsky and Guillemin(3), Gibson(2)) has been generalized by Golubitsky and Schaeffer(5,6), providing a powerful method for analysing imperfect bifurcation. One recent application by Golubitsky, Keyfitz, and Schaeffer(4) concerns the ‘explosion peninsula’ in chemical reactions such as that between hydrogen and oxygen. They show that the ‘thermal-chainbranching model’ of Gray and Yang(7,8) is capable of reproducing the necessary qualitative features, a result for which only heuristic arguments had previously been available.
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