Sensing Matter

Blog 20160427 Sensing Matter
In a comment to Blog 20160420 henk korbee asks:
If time is motion what is then the meaning of Time times Velocity equals distance? How can one recognize matter without motion?”
Thanks henk for another good brainteaser. I believe you refer to this equation:
d = (t)(v)  = (t)(d/t) = td/t = d (t/t) = d
Thus if we travel alongside an object for 1 hour at 1 km/hr, we will have travelled a distance of 1 km. This is one way of measuring length. Another would be to use a 1-km long tape measure. Ostensibly, we do not need to measure time to measure distance. We might imagine that the object is motionless and that motion (time) is as irrelevant as any factor divided by itself (e.g., t/t).
Of course, as with other “henkisms,” this is not so simple, as you point out with your comment that: “How can one recognize matter without motion?” Your implication is correct: We cannot. To recognize matter we need at least one of our five senses (touch, sight, hearing, smell, or taste). The use of any of these requires motion, specifically, the collision of at least one microcosm with another. Trillions of such collisions would be involved in travelling alongside the object or measuring it with a tape. Again, we need motion in order to recognize matter. That gives additional meaning and support to the Fourth Assumption of Science, inseparability (Just as there is no motion without matter, so there is no matter without motion).
The philosophical implications of henk’s question are numerous. For instance, indeterminists sporting the assumption of separability sometimes propose all manner of theories of the paranormal (e.g., ESP, etc.), which are assumed to avoid this necessity for matter to collide with matter. Scientists reject such claims outright along with those suggesting the possibility of perpetual motion. Unfortunately, regressive physicists are not ashamed to hypothesize matterless motion, as Einstein did when, in the spirit of aether denial, he claimed that magnetic and gravitational fields were “immaterial” despite the obvious motion displayed.
Of course, just because matter exists, does not mean that we can always sense it. The Eighth Assumption of Science, infinity (The universe is infinite, both in the microcosmic and macrocosmic directions) guarantees that, no matter how sophisticated our investigations, we will always reach a point beyond which microcosms are so small that we will not be able to sense them, even with sensitive instruments. At that juncture, we will have a choice: we can assume that they exist nonetheless, or we can assume that they do not, being replaced by the nonexistent “perfectly empty space” of the idealist.
Lastly, henk’s suggestion that matter cannot be sensed without motion means that the matterless motion of the indeterminist cannot be sensed either. The sensing process always involves collisions between microcosms per Newton’s Second Law of Motion. The idea that motion could occur divorced from matter, is the ESP of regressive physics.



Bligh said...

We cannot imagine any matter to be motionless according to all known physics. But, we could use Al Kelly's idea modified by me and have a man-made universal reference point to answer these problems.

Westmiller said...

Re: Bligh Comment

I don't know Al Kelly, what his idea is, nor how Bligh has modified it, so I can only respond to the preface and conclusion.

Bligh: "We cannot imagine any matter to be motionless ..."

Physics doesn't constrain our imagination. Contrary to all known physics, I can imagine myself walking on the rings of Saturn or shooting lightning bolts from my hands. There's nothing to prevent us from imagining material objects without motion, even if our senses require motion to perceive them in the first place.

"... have a man-made universal reference point ..."

The concept of a universal reference frame has existed for a long time. It requires picking some specific "center point of the universe" and reference points for each of three dimensions. In an infinite universe, any such points are purely arbitrary, though humanity is inclined to choose "where I am" as the Center (Earth), with the Polar Star, and other "fixed stars" as a preferred celestial frame.

A "universal frame" doesn't answer any questions, though it may facilitate communication among those who agree with the orthodoxy of specific coordinates. It doesn't change anything in reality, because it doesn't really exist: it's just a convenient fabrication.

Assuming we were to agree on some universal frame, it would be meaningless to say that some material object is "not moving" in that frame, since we couldn't detect it without the motion of light reflection, which would move it.

Bottom line, all motion is relative: it is only a change in the spatial relationship of any two objects. Picking one or the other as a reference allows us to quantify motion for our own purposes, but it doesn't change the fact that neither of them is "fixed" in nature.