Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0073, June 6, 2015

DEPT. OF ELEMENTARY PHYSICS


Motions




Copyright 2015 by S. W. Paul Wyszkowski

     "This image has nothing to do with today's subject, right?" says Prickles. Wrong. Today's subject is actually everything that's happening, including this image, this paragraph, you, me and the rest of the universe. "Oh?" she says, "How so?"

     One of the ancient Greeks made the observation "panta rei" - "everything flows". Close, but no cigar. What he (women in those days had better things to occupy themselves with than philosophizing) should have said is: "everything moves". Flow is only a particular case of one of three fundamental kinds of motion: rotation, vibration and mutation. Flow is a species of mutation.

     Actually, everything that is observed involves all three kinds of motion. To begin with, all things rotate around other things and/or around their own centers (provided they have non-zero dimensions which all observable things do). Things that appear to be moving in straight lines are actually rotating around some very distant centers of rotation. Secondly, any phenomenon that endures long enough to be observed, requires that its underlying elementary events repeat in exactly the same configurations for some number of times. Such stable repetition of a pattern of events is what we call vibration. Finally, every once in a while (a very short while from the human perspective) something completely new and unpredictable happens and things are never the same after that - the universe mutates or evolves or, to put it simply, changes.

     "So I take today's image exemplifies all three kinds of motion?" Prickles ventures an educated guess. Precisely. "But it doesn't seem to be moving at all," she objects. Well, rotationwise we are moving along with it so to us it seems to be standing still. The very fact that we see it is evidence of a lot of vibrations (experienced as different colors). And it is mutating, though too slowly for us to observe. Come back in a hundred years - very likely the mutation will be quite apparent - you may not even recognize it. "I see," she says. I think she does.

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