The Cause of Inertia

From Rick:

In reading Collingwood's discussion of Newton's "free motions", I started wondering at the whole concept of inertia. "Modern science" has the mathematical description of what we call "gravity", but not so much the cause or the actual process. Even though they can map out elaborate mathematics of gravitational effects on motion, they never even hint at a causal mechanism. It would be heresy to do so, because it would involve the forbidden "aether".

"Modern Science" teaches the math for inertia, but never the physical causes involved in the actual process of inertia. I'm amazed at the tautological style in which we are taught science ideas like "gravity" and "inertia". Teachers never stop to say, "by the way, we have no freaking idea why or how this happens". The Catholic nuns in grade-school had the same teaching style when it came to Jesus. "He loves you, but if you don't love him back, you're going to be tortured forever". But I digress.

I'm thinking that inertia is nothing but the same "shadowing" process that causes gravity. What I visualize is based on questioning Newton's laws; Why should a particle remain in motion until it bumps into another particle? When two particles collide, why don't they just move away from each other, and then stop dead? Why is there a continuing motion away from each other?


Thanks for the questions. You really know how to get at the heart of the matter.

First Question: “What I visualize is based on questioning Newton's laws; Why should a particle remain in motion until it bumps into another particle?”

Aside from UD, the single most important scientific law was Newton’s First Law of Motion (Every body perseveres in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed thereon). An inertial body like this requires no further motion (or “energy”) to stay at rest or in motion. The First Law is the essence of mechanism. Some folks have tried to give a teleological flavor to this motion, as if the object had "free will" or a mind of its own—as if it “wanted” to travel in the required straight line. Or that it had a so-far undiscovered tiny engine that propels it throughout the universe. Others ask: “Where did the motion of the object come from in the first place?” This question always was and is a problem for believers in finity. Who or what gave the object that first push? Of course, with infinity (The universe is infinite, both in the microcosmic and macrocosmic directions), we assume that there was no first push. We assume that each object receives its motion from other objects ad infinitum.

Of course, as the “Law of the Universe,” the First Law of Motion was only an idealistic skeleton of what it could be. Newton’s object had nothing inside it (unless “empty space” or “solid matter” could be considered something) and didn’t necessarily require something outside it. With neomechanics, we transform Newton’s idealized object into a microcosm, a portion of the universe that contains an infinite number of submicrocosms within and an infinite number of supermicrocosms without. The momentum equation remains the same (P=mv, where P=momentum; m=mass; v=velocity), but it no longer predicts perpetual motion because the required “empty space” does not exist. The macrocosm outside each microcosm always contains supermicrocosms capable of slowing it down (or speeding it up). Inertial planetary rotations and orbits generally slow down due to friction caused by the macrocosm--the days and years get longer. Earth’s day was only 6.5 hours 4.5 billion years ago.

Likewise, our own travels require engines because there is always something in the macrocosm that resists the otherwise “perpetual motion” we instill in our vehicles. This is why one cannot get a patent for a “perpetual motion machine.” Despite some unfortunate theoretical problems at the beginning of the 20th century, the folks in the patent office no longer seem to believe in empty space. Nonetheless, the office is often plagued by those imbued with systems philosophy who propose microcosms (machines) without macrocosms.

Second Question: “When two particles collide, why don't they just move away from each other, and then stop dead? Why is there a continuing motion away from each other?”

Remember that Newton said “that objects at rest or in motion continue to stay that way unless they contact something.” The First Law is not a causal law, but a description of what happens in the absence of a cause. The Second Law of Motion (The alteration of motion is ever proportional to the motive force impressed; and is made in the direction of the right line in which that force is impressed) posits a cause (F=ma, where F=force; m=mass; a=acceleration). In other words, all causes involve a change in motion. Newton has observed that there can be no change in motion unless two bodies interact. Particles cannot “drop dead” without interacting with other particles. Newton doesn’t always say what the second body is (e.g., gravity), but he encourages us to look for it anyway. By the way, that is what is so irritating about modern physics, as you surmised. Einstein’s fields are immaterial. They contain no second body or particles; they are just mathematical descriptions void of actual physical objects. This is why we consider the modern version of physics to be a major regression in physics. We take a progressive step out of the morass by positing a macrocosm that contains material particles (aether) responsible for the often wonderful mathematics that describes their contributions.

By the way, the “shadowing effect” that you mention would never increase inertia. It could only decrease it. Anything that blocks otherwise perpetual motion comes under the Second Law. That’s why gravitation is described as a cause: F=mg (where F=force of gravity; m=mass; g=acceleration due to gravity).

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