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Anonymous Poster

What is Energy Really?

11/10/2007 7:38 PM

What is Energy Really?

Amazingly, after a science degree and a number of years involved in the sciences, I am embarrassed to ask this question. Oh, I have the ability to calculate the energy levels, the effects of energy transfer, conservation of energy, understand the interrelationship of mass and energy and most of the rest, but I am still baffled as to what is energy REALLY.

After reading a science fiction book recently, I started to think about the vastness of space and the insignificance of man. Also contemplating that given the hugeness of galaxies and the amount of mater therein, the total mass density of the universe (which is many billions of light years across) is very small. Add to that the motion that even for the atom, the volume between the nucleus and the electrons dwarfs either of these masses.

Further, I understand from listening to TV science shows that for a "black hole", all matter sucked down is basically crushed to become increasingly dense. It would seem that if more and more mass is brought increasingly close together it would meld into a single mass (unless it was actually energy). But what is energy?

Please don't just direct me to Wikipedia as I have done that already.

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#1

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/10/2007 9:15 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy

The question is too open ended to simply define, so check Wikipedia and see for yourself.

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#12
In reply to #1

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 1:34 AM

No Wiki.....or did u miss it? Let's stop believing there is one source as solution to all our problems... what say?

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#2

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/10/2007 11:47 PM

Energy is simply an alternate state of matter (just like solid, liquid, gas, plasma), be it EM, heat, or what have you. As my H.S. physics teacher put it, "energy is matter that cannot be directly influenced by the swing of a baseball bat." As far as the energy density issue, you have stumbled upon the allure of the "dark" energy/matter theory that seems to be the current buzz. Not sure if that's the answer you're really looking for, but these type of questions fascinate me, (don't even get me started on the nature of inertia!) so follow-up for clarification.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/11/2007 12:18 AM

I had always hoped, like millions of others have, that a free energy source would be discovered.
So I guess if we knew exactly what energy was then we would probably have total control over it. Maybe.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/11/2007 2:29 AM

It seems like the so-called vacuum energy (or zero-point if you rather) is the most likely source of "free-energy", if we could just figure out how to tap it (if it really exists). One thing seems clear, there's a lot more going on out there, energy-wise, than we have been aware of to this point. As you say, understanding is the hurdle, but awareness is the first step. Would our parents have conceived of quantum computers? Our children may wear them on their wrists one day. Who's to say we won't make a similar leap in "energy harvesting"?

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#235
In reply to #4

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/29/2007 8:08 PM

Hi CSM,

I just ran across this video. What do you think?

-John

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#9
In reply to #3

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/11/2007 11:28 PM

All energy is free. It came from the big bang and is moving along the arrow of entropy.

The problem is, the downhill slide of entropy isn't all that useful and we do have to work to increase enough entropy locally to re-direct enough energy to do something we define as useful.

The closest thing to "free" energy is life but even that has to eat and since there's no free lunch...

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#5

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/11/2007 3:32 AM

I don't have your level of education, but we all it seem to contemplate the same problems. So in my humble estimation I would say relativity, and the forces moving things into equilibrium. How they got out of balance in the first place is a different question, but if you believe in infinity, then they have alway been so, and alway will be, infinitum?

Regards JD.

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#6

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/11/2007 4:25 AM

IT's the ability to do work...

It can be 'locked up' or 'stored' in many ways..

Potential energy... Trolley at the top of a ramp. Hydro electric lake.

Kinetic energy... Speeding train, bullet, arrow, golf ball.

Chemical energy... heat, light, boom.

Electromagnetic radiation... usually from a chemical or electrical source...Sun or laser.

Any help?

Del

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#7
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Re: What is Energy Really?

11/11/2007 6:30 AM

That really was it --till yesterday.

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#8

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/11/2007 11:22 PM

What science fiction book were you reading?

I like the 'matter that can't be directly influenced by a baseball bat' explanation...

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#15
In reply to #8

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 3:50 AM

But it is wrong: the baseball bat will influence the energy which he passes through: the movement of the air atoms is altered

I don't like those questions: they always end up in a situation where the questioner tries to convince you of his thruth.

Energy is the ability to alter the state of mass. wether it be it's position, temparature or speed, energy can alter this.

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#18
In reply to #15

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 9:28 AM

I don't like those questions: they always end up in a situation where the questioner tries to convince you of his thruth.

Well said: I concur.

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#22
In reply to #15

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 10:59 AM

"But it is wrong: the baseball bat will influence the energy which he passes through: the movement of the air atoms is altered"

Remember, this was said in the context of a high-school physics class and intended as only a rudimentary method to "wrap your mind around the concept". But the metaphor still holds. Sure the bat can transfer kinetic energy from itself to some other mass, but this is not a direct influence over the energy, only the other mass.

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#24
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Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 11:18 AM

As you explain: the bat has done something with the kinetic energy from some atoms.

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#29
In reply to #24

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 12:06 PM

Any metaphor can be picked apart at some level. It is meant to simply illustrate a concept in more common terms, not be a hard-and fast scientific law. Lighten up...

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#31
In reply to #15

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 12:12 PM

You are very right.... not sure what i was thinking.

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#28
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Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 12:05 PM

Actually, I was reading a SF novel written by Wm. Shatner about how Mr. Spock and Capt. James Kirk first met. A totally Trekkie book, but it got me thinking about what we really do know vrs what we speculate upon. Was it Isaac Newton that said: "What we know is a drop, what we dont know is an ocean" ?

I can follow most of the logic of where theoretical physicists have come to the conclusions they have, but I keep thinking that since all matter is made up of energy, and in the final analysis can be reduced to energy, all the types of energy should reduce to the same thing. I just dont have a good handle on what that really is.

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#35
In reply to #8

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 2:00 PM

I like the 'matter that can't be directly influenced by a baseball bat' explanation...

Hmmmm, I would like to see a baseball bat "directly influence" a diesel-electric locomotive when you are standing on railroad tracks, and it is headed your way pulling a 50 car coal train!

Or how about 12 ton boulder rolling down a mountainside with you in its path armed with a baseball bat. Influence that!

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#36
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Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 2:13 PM

See post #29...

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#39
In reply to #36

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 2:39 PM

Lighten up...

Geez! I thought I was lightening up an otherwise dull and dreary discussion with a little light (pardon the pun) humor!

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#73
In reply to #35

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 11:05 PM

It would directly influence it, just not very much.

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#78
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Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 11:39 PM

In reference to your signature line, please define "Lord" (in your own words, not the dictionary definition). I hear that word used very often, but I've always wondered what people think it means.

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#149
In reply to #35

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/15/2007 2:58 AM

Turn and twiggle how you want, your swing will influence the total picture.

Will it be sufficient?

Depends on your swing.

No-one explains energy as the ability to stop the train, but if youy want it to be stopped, you will need some of it.

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#10

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/11/2007 11:32 PM

Hi Guest, you wrote: "but I am still baffled as to what is energy REALLY[?]"

Don't worry: no scientist can answer this, or for that matter, "what is space REALLY?" or "what is gravity REALLY?" or "what is a singularity REALLY?", etc.

Science are not designed to answer these questions; science can only measure, characterize and model these phenomena in order to understand them well enough to, together with engineers, turn them into useful devices, or whatever.

"... for a "black hole", all matter sucked down is basically crushed to become increasingly dense. It would seem that if more and more mass is brought increasingly close together it would meld into a single mass (unless it was actually energy)."

I suppose you could call the postulated central singularity of a black hole a "single mass", but there is no science that describes that state. For all we know singularities do not even exist and elementary particles may live separate lives inside black holes.

Jorrie

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 1:02 AM

I would add to what you said: instead of saying - no scientist can answer this - I would prefer "we don't know how to answer these yet" - be it any singularity or black hole for that matter.

And more important - "singularity or related terms" come from our "simplifications/assumptions" of the real world (which we are trying to understand). Do they exist? We don't know!

It's accepted that Mass-Energy equivalence is a beautiful concept that emerged during 20th century. And one cannot stop thinking about mass without energy and vice-a-versa since then...

So when someone asks what is energy - one also has to ask what is mass? May be we take it for granted that mass is what we see with naked eyes? If you ask a physicist (I am not the one!), he will say electron has a mass! Well, we cannot see it (directly! - indirectly, you may still be able to "sense" it) but still try to measure it! When someone questions how this universe formed, they will tell you that "all the gas got condensed into mass"! All these are equivalent ways of talking about the same thing - that we cannot explain and understand yet!

So what is mass? Do we know the answer properly? - not what some SI/FPS system suggests? We say "we eat so-many-number-of-calories daily as food; when we excercise, we burn so-many-calories - what do all these statements mean! we take "mass-in" and do "energy+ (waste)mass out"

Does mass really get converted to energy? Should we call it "conversion" or something else? Being a mechanical engineer, I always wanted to "see" things, make everything "tangible". But posts like these bring me down to earth and make me understand my limitations

Many thoughts come to my mind but I would like all of you to "nail me down" on my views so that I can think fresh

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#13
In reply to #11

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 3:21 AM

I have a slight green impression that your name is Wessel, or you are related to him.

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#26
In reply to #11

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 11:51 AM

< Energy[Really]>

Are you serious?

You could'nt be that, REALLY!

After learning of Nobel Prize,E=mc2 ,Hiroshima, 9/11, Sunspots, Crocs sunbathing

After feeling Richter8+,Tornado,Tsunami,

Of Big Bang,Black Holes,Young stars

Every morning promise to give your full energy to your job.

Don't, at midcourse be a Doubting Thomas.

Don't worry -be happy !

And full of Verve-

Full of Energy !

You only live Once.

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#21
In reply to #10

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 10:42 AM

Hi Jorrie,

I know this is off topic for this thread but I was just wondering if you happened to read Marc van der Erve's post here?

The paper he has written is fascinating to say the least. I was wondering if you had, or have, any thoughts about it. If so, I'd like to hear what you think.

-John

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#32
In reply to #10

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 1:00 PM

Jorrie wrote:

Don't worry: no scientist can answer this, or for that matter, "what is space REALLY?" or "what is gravity REALLY?" or "what is a singularity REALLY?", etc.

My reply:

In other words, science describes what things *do*, not what they "are". The English language (and probably most Earth languages), because of the ubiquitous use of the verb "to be" (be/is/are/was/am), creates much semantic confusion. Especially when dealing with questions of ultimate identity. The problem: "is" denotes the same concept as "equals", but real objects (including persons) exhibiting complex mixtures of qualities that may change over time. The remedy? Try using action verbs instead of the verb "to be". If this approach to clearer communication interests anyone, check out "E-prime":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Prime

http://www.nobeliefs.com/eprime.htm

http://www.ctlow.ca/E-Prime/E-Prime.html

http://www.trans4mind.com/personal_development/GeneralSemantics/KensEPrime.htm

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#33
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Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 1:40 PM

"To be or not to be, that is the question"

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#34
In reply to #33

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 1:55 PM

"To be or not to be, that is the question"

Translated into E-Prime:

"To live or not live, this I ask"

Well maybe we don't really want to translate poetry and classic literature into E-Prime. But it would certainly improve the clarity of scientific writing (if fact, highly-regarded published scientific articles tend to have a higher "crispness rating" -- the ratio of non-be words to total word count).

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#37
In reply to #34

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 2:28 PM

"To live or not live, this I ask"

You see, that is just plain wrong. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, from whence came the original quotation, "that is the question" means "that is the issue", as in "calling the question" to vote on and decide an issue or approve/disapprove a resolution in parliamentary debate. It is not a question in the "asking" sense, as in a request (for information, assistance, etc.). Hamlet is not "asking" anyone to give him an answer to the question, rather he uses the phrase, "To be or not to be" (at least that part translated correctly) to initiate his monologistical internal debate, in its most simplest terms. Hamlet goes on to further define the issue and its ramifications, suffering "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" versus taking "arms against a sea of troubles", etc.

I don't know what "E-prime" is (I guess I will have to check....Wikipedia!<shudder>) , but it doesn't sound like anything that I want to use!

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#48
In reply to #37

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 3:35 PM

I don't know what "E-prime" is (I guess I will have to check....Wikipedia!<shudder>) , but it doesn't sound like anything that I want to use!

What a strange thing to say. If you admit your ignorance about E-Prime, how can you intelligently decide you don't want to use it? It probably has much more to offer than you would know by how it "sounded" to you after a brief mention. Surely you don't reject it because of my facetious translation of Shakespeare? (I specifically stated that we should *not* apply E-Prime to poetry). And by the way, your explanation of what Hamlet intended sounds very confusing -- I think I'll stick to poetic intuition rather than academic over-thinking. This reply contains no forms of the verb "to be" (except the necessary instance in this sentence). Crispness rating: >99%.

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#63
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Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 8:21 PM

Hi svengali,

I rather like this criticism of E-Prime by James French:

"Bad writing can be more easily overcome by reducing instances of the verb to be rather than eliminating them".

I agree that much of scientific writing is filled with sloppiness and lack of clarity, however I don't believe E-Prime is a viable solution. It does seem to have some good points but even without applying it to poetry, it takes a vast array of linguistic colors, nuances and possibilities and reduces them to something far less.

Personally, I'll go with James French on this.

-John

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#66
In reply to #63

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 9:08 PM

The goal of E-prime does not necessitate *complete* elimination of the verb "to be". Sometimes we should use that verb. But give me any text (other than poetry) and I can probably improve its clarity by translating it into E-prime. This especially applies to technical writing. In most instances, action verbs convey meaning more accurately and more effectively than the verb "to be". Who is James French? (why should I value his opinion?)

You wrote:

I don't believe E-Prime is a viable solution. ... it takes a vast array of linguistic colors, nuances and possibilities and reduces them to something far less.

This sounds like an unsupported opinion. I challenge you to give an example where E-prime does a poorer job than standard English. I don't think you can (remember, I refer to prose or technical writing, not poetry).

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#70
In reply to #66

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 10:28 PM

You said "Who is James French? (why should I value his opinion?)"

From your very own Wiki reference that you posted http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Prime

Under the heading Criticisms:

"The usefulness of E-Prime in eliminating prejudice and improving readability, as well as the restrictions it imposes on language, have been questioned by many authors (Lakoff, 1992; Cullen, 1992; Parkinson, 1992; Kenyon, 1992; French, 1992, 1993; Lohrey, 1993). These authors observed that communication in E-prime can still be extremely unclear and imply prejudice, while losing important speech patterns, such as identities and identification. James D. French (1992), a computer programmer at the University of California, Berkeley, summarised ten arguments against E-Prime..."

You also said (concerning my post) "This sounds like an unsupported opinion".

You're absolutely right! That was entirely my own opinion. As far as your challenge to give an example, I'll have to think on that one.

Cheers,

-John

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#77
In reply to #70

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 11:35 PM

You seem to argue that since E-prime may not succeed perfectly (i.e., since it can not prevent intentional misrepresentation) that it "is not viable". According to that logic, no language is viable. E-prime aims to improve clarity and accuracy; proponents never claimed that it can prevent intentional abuse of language.

I had not read the part about James French in the Wikipedia article. I have read the other sources more carefully. He may have some valid points, but I still think the benefits (of minimizing use of the verb "to be") far outweigh any drawbacks. I have gone for months at a time writing in almost pure E-prime, and while doing so have received compliments for my clarity and conciseness (not trying to brag -- anyone can do this).

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#105
In reply to #37

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 2:32 PM

Regarding my E-prime translation of "To be, or not to be: that is the question", I realize that I could have done a better job. Keeping in mind that we should apply the E-prime approach only to technical writing and prose, and inspired by STL Engineer's feedback, I humbly suggest an improved translation:

"To live, or not to live: this I ponder"

Now remember, I did this as a light-hearted experiment. I certainly don't advocate changing any of the wording of classic literature. Nor do I profess to know the Bard's intent better than he did. But I do wonder (assuming I understand what Shakespeare meant) whether the translation above allows less room for misunderstanding (i.e., greater precision of expression). The main deficiency with E-prime is that it does a poor job of translating emotionally-laden imagery. I realized this for myself years ago when trying to translate "home is where the heart is". Stick with standard English for poetry. But try E-prime for your technical writing and you will probably like the result.

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#110
In reply to #105

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 3:37 PM

I have to agree with you, not only for poetry, but also for prose, which, like poetry, "gives us pause". Many authors' prose is deliberately ambiguous, or meant to reveal meanings on multiple levels, to allow the reader to think openly and creatively. On the other hand scientific writing should definitely strive to eliminate ambiguity. Our challenge questions, indeed almost all of the CR4 posted questions, especially from those who learned ESL/EFL, could benefit from a little less ambiguity and more succinct descriptions and parameters. It is a sad state of affairs where even those who learn English as their Mother Tongue cannot or will not use it properly.

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#41
In reply to #10

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 2:45 PM

Jorrie writes: "I suppose you could call the postulated central singularity of a black hole a "single mass", but there is no science that describes that state. For all we know singularities do not even exist and elementary particles may live separate lives inside black holes."

-----

That's not universally true, Jorrie. The black hole in my laundry room contains a singularity consisting entirely of half-pairs of lost socks. My guess is that they tunnel through the back of the dryer into the no-man's land where I also lost my mind.

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#76
In reply to #41

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 11:31 PM

Hi -e, "My guess is that they tunnel through the back of the dryer into the no-man's land where I also lost my mind".

You can rest assured that each lost sock is still entangled with its complimentary one, so they are still available. Problem might be that you can never again wear both of such a pair at the same time, unless you find a way to violate causality...

Jorrie

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#79
In reply to #41

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 11:52 PM

I may have located the other end of the worm hole in back of your drier. Send me a box of your unmatched socks, and I will see if any of them match those in my collection...

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#92
In reply to #79

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 11:29 AM

I may have located the other end of the worm hole in back of your drier.

Does a worm hole necessarily have only one end? Can it not have many branches, and even turn back upon itself, like a roadway roundabout?

I believe that the wormhole at the back of my drier has several ends where I have found the missing socks. Some are indeed "Black holes", such as under couch cushions between the seat and the back or arms. If you stick your hand in there, you might not get it back! Also, the farthest, darkest, corner of my boys' closets or the underside of their beds where all the dust bunnies live. Not to mention the space in the TV room behind the corner TV stand, although that one disappeared when we replace the mega-tube CRT-TV with a light-weight flat-screen LCD and set it in front of the never-used fireplace!

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#14

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 3:37 AM

Hi Guest... I dare to say that the total energy of the Universe is the Universe itself... Think about it... The Universe consist of: matter (e.g. mass which is equivalent to energy, or I prefer to consider mass as a condensed form of energy), interactions (e.g. forces between particles and interactions between "systems" which transfer energy and convert its form) and pure energy (i.e. radiowaves, light, heat e.t.c.)... Hence in a way you could say that:

[Energy of the Universe]≡[Universe]

Another equation could be: [Energy of the Universe]≡[Energy of the BB]

So, to wonder about the nature of the energy is like to wonder about the Universe itself or the creation of the Universe (BB)... We speak about all this stuff, we observe or we use it but nobody really understand its "inner interpretation"... ...

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#16

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 5:06 AM

This is an interesting topic, one to last a lifetime!

But to keep it short and perhaps a bit off topic,
I would ask for the answer to the "end of the energy"
or, the mass of the universe.

I find it impossible to "get my head around" the "edge"
of the universe. If it comes to a end, and one is "outside"
where is one? i.e. one cannot be outside anything?

That is, where ever one is, is in somewhere. i.e. out the
room, in the house; out the house, in the street; out the
country, in the world; outside the universe, in....?? something.

i.e. one can never be outside. Period. There is NO escape.
(a whole topic could be based on this)

If we form this argument now into energy, where are we?

Enough! Ok, pass; when (optimist) you find the
answer, please let me know, many thanks.

jt.

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#17

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 7:08 AM

A wonderful question! It is one of those subjects that leads to many others that most technical minds ponder. I will be watching the responses with interest. People think I'm off my rocker when I mention that there is no such thing as time: There is only change. Time is invented by us technical geeks so that we can measure and quantify things. But that is another conundrum. Fascinating but very important stuff. [To us geeks.] Vibes

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#19

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 9:46 AM

These are the kind of questions where science and philosophy tend to merge.

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#20

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 10:10 AM

Hi Guest,

I am no great scientist, neither am I a great philosopher, (to whom I believe your question should be directed.)

You wrote..."What is energy really" Asking the question in this manner makes me think that what we know today about energy is NOT real. I just can not agree with that. We do know.

I would humbly define energy as the ability to: move a molecule from it's steady state, change it's molecular structure, or release potential energy. There is nothing unreal about that, even if you want to add to this definition.

It seems to me that before we can seriously answer your question the way it was put we will first have to define what REALITY is, God, our own existence, universe etc.

Sorry, this is out of my league, but I will definitely stay tune to this thread, and am pretty sure I will learn a lot of philosophy...Not so sure about science.

Wangito.

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#23
In reply to #20

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 11:13 AM

You used "energy" in the definition of "energy"????

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#25

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 11:38 AM

Energy is what vacates your body at approximately 3:33 PM every day and doesn't show up until you pull your car into the driveway and open your first cold one.

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#30
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Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 12:09 PM

Hi, charsley99!

If you ever run for any office, let me know and I'll vote for you.

Mark

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#27

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 12:04 PM

Pay attention to Del the Cat's response.

Your stuckness is rooted in your desire for energy to be a 'thing'.

Energy is not a thing. It is an expression of measurement of one aspect of things, and illustrated by all kinds of terms, depending upon what the thing being measured is.

Even Albert, bless his soul, did not define energy as a thing, merely showed how it could be expressed as a measurement in the milieu of mass versus speed of light.

In electricity and water measurement, energy is expressed as potential (Del's "ability to do work"...which we all learned in high school), and the units are volts and datum. In motion, we use ergs. In light, candlepower; in thermal power, horsepower and BTU's; in pneumatics and hydraulics, PSI or KP. etc. etc.

That's what energy is.

Mark

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#50
In reply to #27

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 4:00 PM

Hi Mark,

"Energy is not a thing. It is an expression of measurement of one aspect of things"

If what you say is true then how do you explain Albert's contention that mass and energy are simply different manifestations of the same thing?

-John

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#198
In reply to #50

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/17/2007 6:21 PM

Hi, Johnjohn!

I don't explain it because I don't contradict him. Mass media, interpreting his formula, makes that conclusion.

"The popular idea that 'e' refers to a thing called energy" is an out-of-context interpretation. "Energy is the product of the speed of light and the square of a mass" pretends to support the notion that energy is a thing for flight-of-fancy suppositions.

e=mc2

An equation shows a balance. Is mass a thing, or a measurement? is the speed of light a thing or a measurement? is e a thing or a measurement?

And yup, I noticed that in an earlier blog I wrote 'the square of the mass' instead of the 'square of the speed of light'. Oops! .

Mark

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#200
In reply to #198

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/17/2007 6:44 PM

Does energy, mass, charge, spin, time, space, gravity - and the speed of light - exist whether or not there's anyone around to measure it?

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#202
In reply to #200

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/17/2007 7:12 PM

If living thinking organisms (humans in our case) do not exist, I believe we can safely say that all the things you mention also do not exist. There would be no intelligence to verify either a yes or no answer.

In such a case the question itself would be irrelevent. I don't know to who, or what, the question would be irrelevent to but irrelevent nonetheless (there's no "who" and no "what").

Just my take on it anyway.

-John

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#201
In reply to #198

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/17/2007 7:03 PM

"And yup, I noticed that in an earlier blog I wrote 'the square of the mass' instead of the 'square of the speed of light'. Oops! ."

For you, 14 Mea Cuplas and your forgiven.

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#208
In reply to #198

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/19/2007 11:33 AM

"The popular idea that 'e' refers to a thing called energy" is an out-of-context interpretation. "Energy is the product of the speed of light and the square of a mass" pretends to support the notion that energy is a thing for flight-of-fancy suppositions.

e=mc2

An equation shows a balance. Is mass a thing, or a measurement? is the speed of light a thing or a measurement? is e a thing or a measurement?

Hmm, let's see if we can find some clarification. Wikipedia (oh no, not that! ) says:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In physics, mass–energy equivalence is the concept that any mass has an associated energy and vice versa. In special relativity this relationship is expressed using the mass–energy equivalence formula

where

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It further states (when you click the "energy" hyperlink) that:

"In physics and other sciences, energy (from the Greek ενεργός, energos, "active, working")[1] is a scalar physical quantity that is a property of objects and systems which is conserved by nature."

I would say by THAT definition, that energy is NOT a thing in the material sense, since it is a property of objects and systems" which ARE "things" in the material sense. But if an idea, a measurement, a concept, a property, can be a thing in the figurative sense, then it certainly IS!

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#210
In reply to #208

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/19/2007 11:47 AM

Hi STL,

"I would say by THAT definition, that energy is NOT a thing in the material sense, since it is a property of objects and systems"

By definition perhaps. However, does energy have mass? If not, then when a particle collides with an antiparticle and they both are anhilated, energy is released of course.

Now two particles, both possessing mass, just disappeared. Energy, possessing no mass appeared. If this happens too often, looks like the mass of the universe will be diminishing.

If you're leaner and meaner (with less flab {mass}) you have more energy and can run faster, right? In other words, less mass equates to more energy.

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#212
In reply to #210

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/19/2007 12:22 PM

"If you're leaner and meaner (with less flab {mass}) you have more energy and can run faster, right? In other words, less mass equates to more energy."

Another analogy, not an equality. I do not even see a connection between your physiological example the physical model you are attempting to describe, other than the use of the subjective terms "mass" and "energy".

"Now two particles, both possessing mass, just disappeared. Energy, possessing no mass appeared. If this happens too often, looks like the mass of the universe will be diminishing."

For whatever reason, anti-matter is relatively rare in our known universe. We have seen examples, such as the positron (an electron with a positive charge) which has been detected. Experiments have shown that when a positron and electron collide they DO anhiliate each other and "create" or liberate, energy. It is a short step from there to posit (forgive the pun!) that other anti-particles also exist (anti-proton, anti-neutron, etc.) and together make up anti-matter.

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#60
In reply to #27

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 7:06 PM

I'm with you and Del.... Can't imagine that ENERGY could be labeled as a "thing" but rather as a "potential" that is built up and stored and when released causes other masses to alter their states, be it energy in ΔP or energy in ΔT or energy in electrical potential ΔE etc.... Who can "see" energy ??

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#62
In reply to #60

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 7:38 PM

"Who can "see" energy ??"

Lightning perhaps...

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#150
In reply to #62

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/15/2007 3:18 AM

Everyone can see energy, speeds is just one form that can easely be seen.

Light is just another form, pure energy, nothing else.

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#88
In reply to #60

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 10:52 AM

"Who can "see" energy ??"

Just because you cannot see a thing does not mean it does not exist. Can you see air? (Well maybe in New York City! <grin>) Can you see electrons?

"Can't imagine that ENERGY could be labeled as a "thing" "

Are characteristics of people and objects not also things? Isn't intelligence a "thing"? Even ideas can be "things", as in "Look, here's the thing......"

Certainly the power companies believe that energy is a "thing". They want to charge you for it after you have consumed it (Sometimes even before you have consumed it. I hate estimated billing!)

Yes, energy can be a "potential" but it can also be kinetic, dynamic, chemical, thermal, etc. No one said that energy has to be a mass (although we know that there is a relationship between mass and energy thanks to Dr. Einstein et al) to be a "thing". If by "thing", you mean a three-dimensional object that has a volume, and linear dimensions, then NO, it would not be a "thing" in that sense. But in the other, more generalized sense, YES, energy is a "thing". If you check the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary for "thing" you will find 10 different definitions. One of these perhaps come closest to how the word applies to energy:

3 a: a separate and distinct individual quality, fact, idea, or usually entity

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#38

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 2:31 PM

What is Energy Really?

-----

It's what my kids have that I don't.

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#40

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 2:43 PM

What is Energy Really?

Hey, you are asking the wrong people here! Ask the US government, which has a whole Department of it, with a budget of billions of dollars! If they don't know, who does?

ROFL

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#42

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 2:45 PM

What is Energy Really?

Wow! Am I glad this isn't a "Challenge" question! Although, it would be interesting to see what they give as a correct "Answer" !

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#43

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 2:46 PM

When I first decided to major in math and physics, I decided that a minor in philosophy was essential as, if a scientist is not first a philosopher, he doesn't know what questions to ask, nor how to frame them.

This question, "What is energy, really?", and the discussion surrounding it herein, has touched upon some of the most fundamental questions of natural philosophy, which is what science actually is. And unfortunately for the atheists in the crowd, these questions inevitably lead us to contemplation of the divine. Why is there something instead of nothing? What is reality, really? What is mass/energy?

Fundamentally, as Del the Cat and many others in this thread have said, all science can do is to say what a thing does, to measure and quantify behavior, and even that only at a very low level. Ask any competent mathematician to show you a solution to the three body problem or Fermat's last theorem. *Sigh* Most of the mathematics used to describe Relativity (general and special) is beyond all but a very few of the most brilliant.

But I range far afield. For a true explanations of what energy is, really, beyond what it does, ask the Big Guy. It seems He is the only One with the Truth. In my humble opinion "Let there be Light" is as good an explanation as any. All energy can be explained as light, converted into one form or another, and all energy can be related back to light. But what is light really? Again, all science can do is measure and quantify. For anything beyond that, I refer you once again back to the Big Guy. I do not know.

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#44
In reply to #43

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 2:50 PM

Well said.

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#46
In reply to #44

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 3:02 PM

Yes, even Einstein was sometimes at a loss for words to explain some things in scientific terms. At least he was able to use humor! In reply to someone who had asked him to explain Radio (kind of like this question on Energy!) he said to compare it to a wire telegraph:

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

(This one is for Del!)

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#49
In reply to #43

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 3:54 PM

When you name a supernatural creator being ("God", aka "the Big Guy") as the ultimate cause of existence, you do not really solve the mystery nor add any information to the discussion. While attending university I debated with a visiting evangelist preacher named Brother Jed. He insisted that God must exist since only this could explain the origin of the universe. I asked "who created God?". Of course he gave the usual answer "God has always existed". Not a convincing or useful answer explanation, since it seems at least as likely (actually more likely) that the universe itself has always existed (in some form or another). Another explanation posits that time has no ultimate meaning in the context of a higher-dimensional metaverse. In any case, inserting God into the process does not really solve the mystery, it just pushes into a realm where we cannot apply the scientific method. Does this really sound like the best approach for engineers and scientists? Note that I adhere to agnosticism, not atheism. I do not reject the possibility of a supernatural creator being. But neither do I resort to such a being to solve scientific mysteries. Better to honestly admit we don't know, rather than pretend that we have solved the mystery by invoking God.

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#51
In reply to #49

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 4:58 PM

Better to honestly admit we don't know, rather than pretend that we have solved the mystery by invoking God.

While I agree with you that it is better to admit what we don't know in scientific terms than to claim God's Hand in everything that is unknown, I think we need to cut DrMoose a little slack in this case. The question put by our Guest, "Edgar" as we refer to anonymous posters, tends more to the philosophic than to the scientific. To ask "What is energy, really?" begs the question, I think.

I like the old saying, "If it looks like a duck, smells like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a DUCK!" Energy IS what and how we as humans define it. God, on the other hand, IS what He IS, whether you believe in Him or not!

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#53
In reply to #51

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 5:20 PM

God, on the other hand, IS what He IS

Yes, "God = God". But ask people to define "God". You would get many different -- and conflicting -- definitions. A very vague concept that doesn't help in our understanding of nature. But we don't have to settle for "energy = energy". We can empirically study what energy DOES, and we don't need the God-concept to do so. Have faith in God if this comforts you (I have no problem with religionists as long as they don't force their beliefs on me). But I don't see how mentioning God helps us answer the question that started this thread.

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#86
In reply to #53

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 10:03 AM

But I don't see how mentioning God helps us answer the question that started this thread.

Personally, I think it is a stupid question. If you just want to stir up discussion, that's fine, but seeking a real answer, given what the questioner has already said about what he knows, is ludicrous. He already knows the answer, REALLY!

We can empirically study what energy DOES

Yes, of course. And if you re-read what the questioner says, he HAS done that, and still he asks the question!

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#55
In reply to #51

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 5:28 PM

Hi STL,

"whether you believe in Him or not"

Or Her perhaps.

Maybe it's best to just call God "God" and not assign to God a gender.

Maybe too, we could call God the unmoved mover*, or maybe That which is A Priori.

* From a paper by Marc van der Erve.

-John

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#87
In reply to #55

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 10:21 AM

Maybe it's best to just call God "God" and not assign to God a gender.

John, John... <shaking head> Do we really need to go there? Firstly, using the male pronouns Him, He, His, etc. doesn't "assign" God a gender anymore than using the words Man or Mankind in referring to the human race excludes the female gender. Secondarily, it would be awkward writing to always use "God" instead of pronouns at times. You try writing about people, animals, or things without ever using a pronoun and you will see what I mean. And because of the personal or personality nature of God, most writers, myself included, dislike using the neutral, and to some neutering, pronoun, "it". In the same way people will write about Nature (as in Mother Nature), calling Nature by feminine pronouns, she, her, etc. Does that mean that Nature is a female? Hardly, although given the violent and changeable temper of Nature at times it may appear that way! <grin>

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#91
In reply to #87

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 11:10 AM

As I read your post <with awe and progodifiduction filling my mind> I concede your point. How could I have missed such obviousness? Perhaps we should invent a politically correct pronoun to use, at times, in place of the word God. Maybe something like "SHEHEIT"

STL, I consider myself as spiritual as anyone else on this planet and I have very strong convictions regarding same. However, as I think you'll agree, debating God and religion is about as pointless a debate as you'll ever find. THERE IS NO WINNER!!

I'm not sure where God and religion were introduced into this thread, but all it did was to make it go inexorably downhill. Such topics HAVE NO PLACE on an engineering forum!

The topic, IMHO, was Guest's question concerning a definition, or description, of energy (from an engineering or scientific standpoint), not some A. Priori prognostication. Of course you knew that and you said it very well in your post #86 here.

I go back to what I said earlier that energy is simply another manifestation of matter since they seem to be one and the same.

-John

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#96
In reply to #91

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 12:01 PM

John,

I couldn't agree with you more (especially in the parts where you agree with me! ). I just don't like being picked on for my use of the male pronoun for the Almighty, as if it was Politically Incorrect, when it is quite an accepted practice, except by those trying to make some kind of a feminist statement.

Now about that word, "progodifiduction"! It has no definition in the M-W dictionary and it doesn't even Google to anything.

Fess up, now. You made that up, didn't you! <grin>

I'll say a prayer to the Almighty and may SHEHEIT have mercy on your soul!

ROFL

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#100
In reply to #96

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 12:55 PM

Good one STL! LOL

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#101
In reply to #100

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 12:57 PM

PS:

Made you google didn't I?

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#52
In reply to #49

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 5:06 PM

In the referenced comment (#43) which Svengali has taken me to task over, please note that my final statement was "I do not know." I don't. Anyone who is completely honest with himself/herself must admit that, when it comes to such ultimate questions, we do not know. And when we do begin to discuss such ultimate questions, the question of nature vs. super-nature inevitably arises.

For myself, I unashamedly admit to being a theist (as opposed to being a deist, a thing not greatly different than being an agnostic I think). In fact, I freely admit to being that most despised of theists, a believer in Jesus of Nazareth. I believe in Him, I believe in the Bible (every single Word), I believe in the I AM that I AM. And, if one knows anything about the history of science, one knows that science was discovered by devout men and women who sought to explain His creation in a way that could be clearly understood.

In any event, we all do seem to agree on one thing. There must be something which is un-created, which has always existed, and from which all else naturally flows. A first cause, if you will. Those who would chose to deny a creator would like to believe that this is the universe itself, e.g. nature. However, we seem to have proven conclusively that the universe does have a beginning, a creation point, and apparently will ultimately have an end. So, where does this leave us? Right back with the Creator.

It seems to me that this whole question is meat for a thread of it's own. It also seems to me that we, as scientists and engineers, are uniquely qualified to ponder and discuss this question. How about it, moderators, may I start such a thread? Stay tuned!

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#58
In reply to #52

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 5:43 PM

However, we seem to have proven conclusively that the universe does have a beginning, a creation point, and apparently will ultimately have an end. So, where does this leave us? Right back with the Creator.

You jump to conclusions prematurely. Scientific evidence does support the idea that our universe started with the "Big Bang". But one hypothesis posits that our universe arose within a pre-existing (beginning-less?) multiverse. Another hypothesis put forth by Stephen Hawking suggests that the Big Bang brought time into existence along with the spatial dimensions (many people don't seem to realize that the Big Bang brought forth not just matter and energy, but also space-time itself). In the latter hypothesis, time had no meaning "prior" to the Big Bang. And just because we presently have no natural explanation for the cause of the Big Bang, this does not mean that it did not have a natural cause (lack of evidence does not equate to a refutation). Obviously we don't know nearly enough about cosmology to come to any definite conclusions. Maybe science will never provide enough evidence for us to feel confident about any explanation of ultimate origins. But lack of a scientific conclusion does not mean that an empirically-unsupported faith-based explanation wins "by default". In lieu of sufficient empirical evidence, we should maintain the honest and logical position of admitting that we simply don't know (i.e., agnosticism).

P.S. I wrote the above paragraph completely in the subset of the English language known as E-prime.

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#89
In reply to #58

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 11:02 AM

P.S. I wrote the above paragraph completely in the subset of the English language known as E-prime.

Do you actually write in E-prime, or is there some translater or editor (like a spelling and grammar checker) that you use to "correct" or "simplify" the standard English you have undoubtably been trained to write in since a child (if you did not learn English as a Second Language)?


Where could I have access to such a translator or checker if one exists?

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#59
In reply to #52

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 5:57 PM

In fact, I freely admit to being that most despised of theists, a believer in Jesus of Nazareth.

Although I don't call myself Christian anymore, I went to Catholic private school for eleven years. Some of the dogma originating from the Roman Catholic Church (e.g., original sin and eternal damnation) drove me away. But I respect Jesus and his teachings, especially the Sermon on the Mount. And I have never experienced any hostility from Christians. But Muslims do worry me -- many of them would not hesitate to kill me for expressing my agnosticism. And don't tell me that "Islam is the religion of peace" -- if you believe that, then you have not really read the Koran. If you want to know what I mean, just ask me for quotes

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#126
In reply to #59

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/14/2007 10:13 AM

"aaaand go."

Spottswoode, Team America

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#54
In reply to #49

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 5:22 PM

In the referenced comment (#43), please note that my final statement was "I do not know." I don't. Anyone who is completely honest with himself/herself must admit that, when it comes to such ultimate questions, we do not know. And when we do begin to discuss such ultimate questions, the question of nature vs. super-nature inevitably arrises.

For myself, I unashamedly admit to being a theist (as opposed to being a deist, a thing not greatly different than being an agnostic I think). In fact, I freely admit to being that most despised of theists, a believer in Jesus of Nazereth. I believe in Him, I believe in the Bible (every single Word), I believe in the I AM that I AM. And, if one knows anything about the history of science, one knows that science was discovered by devout men and women who sought to explain His creation in a way that could be clearly understood.

In any event, we all do seem to agree on one thing. There must be something which is un-created, which has always existed, and from which all else naturally flows. A first cause, if you will. Those who would chose to deny a creator would like to believe that this is the universe itself, e.g. nature. However, we seem to have proven conclusively that the universe does have a beginning, a creation point, and apparently will ultimately have an end. So, where does this leave us? Right back with the Creator.

It seems to me that this whole question is meat for a thread of it's own. It also seems to me that we, as scientists and engineers, are uniquely qualified to ponder and discuss this question. How about it, moderators, may I start such a thread? Stay tuned!

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#81
In reply to #54

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 3:39 AM

Hi DrMoose... "...I believe in the Bible (every single Word)..." So, you must believe that the World is only around 10.000 years old... You must believe that we are all descendants of Adam and Eve (a nice tale) and not the results of the evolution of kinds (a scientific truth)... You must believe that the most merciful God punishes people with fire from the sky, worldwide floods and awfull diseases... (So, I have the sense that all these stories are pure creation of the humans and not ispired by God...) Before you "slap" me I must say that I respect your opinion... What I'm trying to say is that we have to think and discuss scientifically... We have the duty to do so, in order to find the secrets of the Universe and understand the Nature...

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#106
In reply to #81

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 2:34 PM

Hello George.

Yes, I do believe the Bible, every single Word. I do believe that the biblical creation account is literal truth, not merely metaphor/allegory. I do in fact believe that the universe is only 8-10 thousand years old, that we are all descended of Adam and Eve, that a just God does in fact judge and punish, the entire story. I do not in any wise disagree with the idea that evolutionary processes are at work in the world, though I do disagree with the so called "theory" of evolution, which is absolutely not borne out by the fossil record, just to name a single point.

I admit that for a very long time I had a difficult time reconciling my faith with my scientific knowledge. Most particularly the sheer scale of the universe, which seemed to require that it be billions of years old just for light to have enough time to get across it. But I take note of something important. The biblical creation account is a recounting of the facts, not an explanation of them. The I Am that I AM knows what He did and how He went about it. All I can do is speculate.

Interestingly enough, once I accepted the creation account on faith, I stumbled upon an interesting if much poo-pooed theory (hypothesis?), that suggests that the value of "C", the speed of light, is not constant through time, but was much greater in earlier epochs. And in fact, once you plug in this varying value for "C", the age and scale of the universe check out quite nicely.

In fact, as "C" shows up almost everywhere in the mathematics of the sciences, from biological processes to plate tectonics, when you plug in this varying value into all these different places, the biblical account begins to look even more accurate.

In the meanwhile, please look into a new (and I hope ongoing) thread, which I just opened last night, "Nature vs. Super-Nature," the first instalment of which poses the question, "Are Science and Faith Mutually Exclusive?" And please feel free to comment, it is through dissension which we learn.

Dr. Moose

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#112
In reply to #106

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 4:06 PM

Dr. Moose (do you really hold an earned doctorate?),

I find your explanation of the difference between Biblical Chronology (as espoused by Creationism) and the Scientific Record to be quite novel, and in fact more than a little entertaining. However, as a scientifically trained engineer, and as a representative (admittedly, self-proclaimed ) of more than a few educated Christian citizens who do NOT believe in a 100% literal interpretation of the Bible, I find this "theory" almost as laughable as atheists and agnostics find Genesis and the Gospels (which I do NOT).

In fact, I believe that you do a disservice to Christianity, to Evangelism, and to new believers (who may still be questioning their new-found faith) by this interpretation of God's Word. God did not intend man to be ignorant and hold to old beliefs when the preponderance of evidence proves otherwise. Rather, it is through a closer understanding of the awesome majesty and beauty of His creation and His scientific laws that one can be lead to a closer walk with Him. Instead of rejecting the findings of science which help Man better understand God's Universe and his/her place in it, as a man of science you should be embracing scientific truths and not creating new ways to justify clinging to old, obsolete, beliefs. However, if those beliefs are your own personal way of accepting God's Truth, far be it from me to come between you and your faith. Just don't try to ram it down the throats of others, especially Christian brothers and sisters, who take a different view.

By the way, in light of your last post, which I am responding to here, perhaps you should go back and review your own post #45.

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#153
In reply to #106

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/15/2007 4:39 AM

Hi, DrMoose... I couldn't resist for a short reply to your post... "...I stumbled upon an interesting if much poo-pooed theory (hypothesis?), that suggests that the value of "C", the speed of light, is not constant through time, but was much greater in earlier epochs."... It's just a speculation that has been suggested by just a few scientists (and is not accepted by the majority of the scientists)... So, don't count on this... "And in fact, once you plug in this varying value for "C", the age and scale of the universe check out quite nicely."... You can select any kind of variation of c (if you accept such a variation)... Why this variation should have the specific value (in order to get a 10.000 years old Universe)?????... (I mean I could do the same thing if I'd like to "prove the truth" of another religion which says that the Universe is -i.e.- 10 trillion years old or whatever)... Such arbitrary acceptances in order to "prove" sth are useless... This is not science... This is just a waste of time... ...

( "... though I do disagree with the so called "theory" of evolution..."...Sorry, but I could never accept the "Adam and Eve theory" instead of the "Theory of Evolution"... The first is just an educating story with a moral message... the second is science...)

My advice: don't to mix up science and religion... The conflict is unavoidable... ...)

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#64
In reply to #49

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 8:24 PM

"God has always existed." Not a convincing or useful answer explanation, since it seems at least as likely (actually more likely) that the universe itself has always existed (in some form or another).

-----

As it seems "more likely" to you (at least) that the Universe has always existed as compared to "God has always existed," aren't you suggesting to the reader that you have some form of (as yet undisclosed) objective evidence on which to base a comparison of these two likelihoods? Otherwise, why would you prefer one likelihood over the other? Can you offer a convincing and useful explanation of this preference and the basis for it?

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#75
In reply to #64

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 11:23 PM

As it seems "more likely" to you (at least) that the Universe has always existed as compared to "God has always existed," aren't you suggesting to the reader that you have some form of (as yet undisclosed) objective evidence on which to base a comparison of these two likelihoods?

We have definite empirical evidence that the universe has existed for over 14 billion years. And we can plausibly speculate, based on known and cutting-edge physics, about what preceded the Big Bang. For example, the cyclic universe hypothesis (incidentally the preference of 1 billion Hindus), and the metaverse hypothesis. Speculation I admit, but at least it extrapolates from known physics. Empirical evidence that God exists: zero (I'm not saying that God definitely does not exist, but rather that we have no proof that He/She/It exists). Science-based arguments for the "Divine Origin" hypothesis: zero (theologians insist that we accept it based on pure faith, or on the basis of faulty reasoning).

Otherwise, why would you prefer one likelihood over the other? Can you offer a convincing and useful explanation of this preference and the basis for it?

Occam's razor suggests that we go with the simpler explanation -- the one that does not include the untestable assumption of an unobservable supernatural being

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#84
In reply to #75

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 8:51 AM

For example, the cyclic universe hypothesis (incidentally the preference of 1 billion Hindus), and the metaverse hypothesis.

and

Occam's razor suggests that we go with the simpler explanation -- the one that does not include the untestable assumption of an unobservable supernatural being

-----

And the foregoing hypotheses are testable?

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#85
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Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 9:22 AM

And the foregoing hypotheses are testable?

Not yet, but in principle we might in the future have the ability to test them (the cyclic universe and meta-universe hypotheses). Unlike the Divine Origin hypothesis, they make falsifiable predictions -- the basic requirement for applying the scientific method.

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#74
In reply to #49

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/12/2007 11:17 PM

Acknowledging God does not in any way pretend to have solved anything. It merely expresses one's recognition of the fact of observing something, not understanding it, but also recognizing that since it is observable and exists, that it can at some level be understood. God as the Creator understands it and perhaps, if we continue to investigate what we observe, one day we too will understand what He understands.

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#99
In reply to #74

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 12:10 PM

Hi WB,

These kinds of debates are almost always interesting. They seem, in a sense, like characters sandwiched between the pages of a novel debating the existence of the Author. We can't just step outside of the story and settle the matter once and for all. But on the other hand we have the embarrassing fact of the book itself.

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#104
In reply to #99

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 2:12 PM

But on the other hand we have the embarrassing fact of the book itself.

Books, and all other existing objects, naturally result from the process of cosmic evolution. I feel amazed and delighted by this, but certainly not embarassed.

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#108
In reply to #104

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 3:25 PM

"Books, and all other existing objects, naturally result from the process of cosmic evolution."

Wait a minute. Isn't "cosmic evolution" a contradiction in terms? Evolution is a theory to explain the "natural" changes that have occurred in life forms on this planet, mostly toward more ordered organisms, from lower-order single celled plants and animals to highly evolved complex life-forms. The term "evolution" is also applied to historical (and usually slow) changes in other fields, such as "evolution of government", "evolution of languages", etc., usually from simpler to richer, more advanced, more complex, and more ordered entities.

However, in "cosmic" change the natural order is towards maximum randomness as the entropy of the system increases, or, as Merriam-Webster defines entropy:

"a: the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity b: a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder "

It seems to me that this would be the exact opposite of "evolution" as we commonly know it! There has even been a term created for "de-evolution" or "devolution", if that is possible, so perhaps you could say, "cosmic devolution", but that could not be a source of creation now could it? Rather, it would be a cause of destruction and annihilation. This could be one reason why many scientists do look for an unexplained creative force which might be at work in the Universe.

Evolution is a theory to explain what has happened, but how do you explain how evolution came to be? It can't possibly be the "natural order of the universe" in purely scientific terms, since science has shown this to be impossible because it contradicts entropy.

I better stop now before I get tripped up in semantics, verbiage, and prolixity (try that one, Johnjohn!) but I think you get my drift!

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#111
In reply to #108

Re: What is Energy Really?

11/13/2007 3:53 PM

Your reply repeats a common misconception about the relationship between evolution and entropy (a favorite tactic of the Intelligent Design movement). This misconception assumes that spontaneous (natural) evolution towards ordered (low-entropy) structures cannot occur because the second law of thermodynamics predicts that the overall entropy of the universe must increase over time. The fallacy lies in ignoring the fact that entropy can actually decrease in small regions even while the *overall* entropy of the universe continues to increase. The low-entropy regions contain the life zones (life thrives at the border between order and chaos). The universe probably contains billions of such life zones, but these exist as relatively tiny regions isolated from each other by vast lifeless regions containing most of the universe's entropy. So yes, nature can evolve complex ordered organisms, as long as it also produces an excess of entropy nearby. One could correctly state that, no only does entropy provide a direction for the flow of time, but it also makes life possible.

By the way, none of this precludes the existence of a supernatural creator being (just as my auto-mechanics manual does not preclude this possibility). One could argue that such a being exists and that He/She/It designed the laws of physics to ensure that evolution occurred. After all, if such a being exists, who the heck are we to place limits on what particular mechanism He/She/It chose to use? If you answer that the Bible claims it happened a certain way, then I counter that the Vedas specify a different mechanism -- now prove (empirically) that the Bible supercedes the Vedas (you can't because religions depends on *faith* -- acceptance of a proposition despite the absence of evidence).

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