Force In Physics: A Dance Not A Shove


[pic = M. Norton Wise]

In Conceptions Of Ether, a collection of philo-scientific essays edited by G.N. Cantor and M.J.S. Hodge, I found one particular essay, by M. Norton Wise, especially intriguing.

Mainstream physicists have never shaken the habit of viewing Force as something that emanates from one object out into space.  A magnet emanates magnetism, the electron carries “charge” (whatever that is) and is behind electricity, and matter produces gravity– either by bending space (Relativity theory) or else by acting upon other bodies via undetectable “gravitons” (a theory offered by some from the Quantum peanut gallery).

However, Wise shows us that there’s another way to think about Force.  Instead of one object acting upon another, the two objects act together; they form a relationship, and that relationship manifests itself physically as “Force.”

Wilhem Weber proposed that Force could occur as what Wise calls a “pairwise relation” between two objects.  The intensity of the Force would depend upon the character of both objects.   There could even be higher orders of Force, that is:  relationships between relationships.  These uber-relationships would also appear as Force, though a more complex and perhaps more subtle one.

Bernhard Riemann points-out that whatever the basic material of matter is (he calls it a monad), it will remain unchanged by interaction with other materials.  This is because that which is the most fundamental substance in the universe will exist in a pure state of Being, and pure Being is not subject to change.

Riemann suggested that Force could be distributed throughout the universe as differentials that we can call Potential Energy.  He used the example of ether differentials, but one could imagine gravitational differentials (a piano suspended above a sidewalk) or electromagnetic differentials (the build-up of a charge) and other similar situations.

Carl Neumann (I think it was Carl) contends that, contrary to what might appear commonsensical to some, it is not Kinetic Energy that is the primary energy form but Potential Energy.

Interpreting Neumann through Riemann we can say that Forces are experienced when differentials are activated or discharged (allowed to move closer to equilibrium); perceived Forces are then merely secondary effects; the differentials are the true efficient cause of the phenomenon of Force.

Another interesting spin:  some see an analagous relationship between the “Force” that forms from the relationship of two objects, and the “Idea” that forms from the juxtaposition of two images in our minds.

Call me a nerd, but I find this stuff more stimulating than the tease of a government shutdown.


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