What is Energy?
Blog 20110223 Bill Howell and Glenn Borchardt
Hello again Dr. Borchardt-
When I read your TTAOS and TSW books I was able to quickly comprehend and accept all but one of the 10 Assumptions. This ease of understanding wasn’t because they were consupponible (a word I’d never heard before and which still doesn’t appear in Wikipedia’s or Merriam-Webster’s online dictionaries by the way :-), but because they were not inconsistent with my own thinking and experience. The one Assumption that caused me to contemplate was Assumption No. 4- Inseparability, which posits (from Hegel) that ‘Just as there is no motion without matter, so there is no matter without motion’. I’ve finally worked thru what was puzzling me about this Assumption and it stemmed from my associating motion with energy.
As you write in TSW (beginning on page 53), this association has been confused and confounded for quite some time because matter has been viewed (and defined by Einstein) as equivalent to energy. I think your argument is epitomized by your statements- ‘Running is what legs do; motion is what matter does’; and, ‘Legs are not motion and running is not matter’. After cogitating on this, I realized that while your Assumption is correct, and even complete with respect to matter, it seems implicitly incomplete because it doesn’t address what ‘energy’ is. I do understand that the Assumption of Inseparability is not dealing with what energy is, but it seems (to me) that it either needs to, or that you need to add another assumption to the list. Energy is something. It’s a force or field (or some other word you prefer), but it is something- it’s what the motion of matter is conveying- it’s what makes the matter move and propagate. Let me try to clarify what I mean.
I can’t find the reference but I seem to recall you once writing in a blog that the term ‘energy’ could be substituted with the phrase ‘matter in motion’. Assuming this is a correct reflection of your views, then how do you explain the phenomenon revealed by Cymatics? If you’re not familiar with it, a short but good example is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu6Ox5LrhJg&feature=related. Yes, the sound waves are moving the particles, but I’m talking about the patterns that the particles reveal at different frequencies. These patterns appear to be an emergent property of ‘energy’ and not simply of matter in motion. To me, these patterns seem like 2-D analogues of electron orbitals. Perhaps I’m still being confused by the paradigm of associating motion with energy. If so, I hope you can show me how (as you have so many other times). Thanks.
Thanks again for the question. It all comes down to what is “energy”? You seem to agree with inseparability (Just as there is no motion without matter, so there is no matter without motion), which is only common sense. It implies, however, that the universe presents us with only two basic phenomena: matter and the motion of matter. “Energy” is one of the many matter-motion terms we use in physics to describe matter in motion. Each of these terms is the result of a calculation in which we multiply a measurement for matter times a measurement for motion. The most common matter-motion terms are: momentum (P=mv), force (F=ma), and energy (E=mc2). None of these is either matter or motion. That is what is so difficult for people to comprehend. They tend to think of energy as matter in one instance and as motion in another. BTW: If I ever wrote that energy is matter in motion or that energy is the motion of matter, please tell me where it was so I can correct it in future editions.
The indeterministic claim that matter and energy are the same didn’t help anything (see my recent paper on “The Physical Meaning of E=mc2”: http://scientificphilosophy.com/Downloads/The%20Physical%20Meaning%20of%20E%20=%20mc2.pdf ). I have often said that a “modern physicist” is one who does not know what “time” is. Now I can add that a “modern physicist” is one who does not know what “energy” is. That is because these terms are part of the eternal philosophical struggle between determinism and indeterminism. Ever since the invention of the concept of energy, it seems that indeterminism has been winning. Nonetheless, matter exists; motions occur. Matter has xyz dimensions and location with respect to other matter. So, legs exist and running occurs. I can put matter in my back pocket, put I cannot do so with motion. Energy neither exists nor occurs. We often say that we are “saving energy,” as if it were a thing that we could stockpile. We can save fossil fuels, but not the energy inside them. If energy exists inside them, could you please take some energy out and give it to me for future use? We often say that fast dancers are more energetic than slow dancers, as if energy and motion were equivalent. These common uses add to the confusion involving matter-motion terms. We have used them so much as shorthand terms that we have forgotten that they are mere calculations, neither things, nor motions.
I like your video demonstration of matter in motion. It clearly shows how grains of salt can be pushed around by vibratory motion. The patterns created depend on the frequency of the vibrations and the interactions produced by constructive and destructive interference. In general, notice that the low frequency, long period waves produce larger patterns than the high frequency, short period waves. The development of each of the patterns appears, at first, to be somewhat magical. That may be why you thought about them as “an emergent property of ‘energy’ and not simply of matter in motion.” Of course that is all they are: matter (salt) and motion (vibrations). The patterns are emergent alright, but they are properties of matter, which you can see, rather than of “energy,” which you can only calculate. I imagine that mathematicians have already figured out the equations of motion for each of the patterns, although, like all motions they are infinitely complex. This demo was especially interesting to me at this time, because I am currently writing a book with Steve Puetz on universal cycle theory (see http://www.worldsci.org/php/index.php?tab0=Abstracts&tab1=Display&id=5229&tab=2). We will explain why so many motions occur as waves or cycles and how they contribute to infinite universe theory.