Global Stability
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Metastability describes the behaviour of certain physical systems that can exist in long lived states that are less stable than the system's ground state|most stable state. The parameters of excited systems may reach and hold stationary values (a metastable state). But metastable states have finite lifetimes. After a (potentially very long) period of time, spontaneously or under an external action, the characteristic parameters of the state change again to relax to a more stable state. A single particle analogy may be drawn with a ball resting in a hollow on a slope. With some perturbation the ball may start rolling again to lower levels. Isomerisation is another common example, where higher energy isomers are long lived as they are prevented from rearranging to the ground state by (possibly large) barriers in the potential energy. The metastability concept originates in the physics of Phase_transition#Modern_classifications|first-order phase transitions later to acquire new meanings...
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