Gathering perspectives: energy
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17-04-2014, 03:40 PM
Gathering perspectives: energy
Expensive. Indispensable. It cannot be created and it cannot be destroyed, but it can change.

The ability to perform physical work, the thing that makes things move, maybe even the source of matter itself… the word “energy” relates to a notion that is not always easy to describe, with different meanings in different contexts, but I’d like to know. If you ever use the word “energy”, what do you mean?

Thanks!
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17-04-2014, 04:43 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives: energy
In everyday life, I tend to use the word "energy" interchangeably with the terms "power" and "electricity."

e.g. "I would love to call my parents, but my phone's battery is all out of energy."

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17-04-2014, 04:57 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives: energy
Hello Vosur, thanks for your reply.

(17-04-2014 04:43 PM)Vosur Wrote:  In everyday life, I tend to use the word "energy" interchangeably with the terms "power" and "electricity."

e.g. "I would love to call my parents, but my phone's battery is all out of energy."
Well, that's pretty much the ability to perform work, isn't it? "My phone doesn't work because it doesn't have energy".

I think I understand what you mean. Any other contexts that may be interesting?

Cheers!
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17-04-2014, 05:17 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives: energy
(17-04-2014 04:57 PM)living thing Wrote:  Well, that's pretty much the ability to perform work, isn't it? "My phone doesn't work because it doesn't have energy".
Yeah, that sounds about right.

(17-04-2014 04:57 PM)living thing Wrote:  I think I understand what you mean. Any other contexts that may be interesting?
No, I don't think so. I'd be surprised if there were a colloquial usage that doesn't boil down to "a resource that living and non-living things require to function properly."

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17-04-2014, 05:56 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives: energy
(17-04-2014 05:17 PM)Vosur Wrote:  I'd be surprised if there were a colloquial usage that doesn't boil down to "a resource that living and non-living things require to function properly."
Hmmm... I'm not sure I would use the word "function" in reference to lifeless entities, but I agree with the meaning I think you are trying to convey.

Well, I suppose there are also plenty of other colloquial uses of the word in which it is mixed with chakras, magic healing devices and all sorts of other bollocks, but I presume we are excluding those from the conversation. When I think of positive and negative energy, the notions of exothermic and endothermic processes spring to mind; nothing to do with faith-healer$.

Although there is one seemingly serious yet not fully colloquial context in which the notion attached to the word "energy" acquires some creative powers that rival those of the mightiest god thing. What may have happened roughly 13.8 billion years ago?

Mysterious concept indeed. Thanks for coming back!
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17-04-2014, 06:22 PM
RE: Gathering perspectives: energy
I'd type out an answer for you, but after the crazy day I've had, I don't have the energy. Tongue

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19-04-2014, 06:11 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives: energy
I’d like to know other people’s views, but while I wait for them to possibly never arrive, I can describe how I usually use the term. Once again, this is the philosophy section of an online forum; please do not trust anything I may say as science. It might be pure brainwank.

Whenever I talk about energy, I am generally referring to the universe’s actual change or its tendency to change. Matter can move if there is nothing around to prevent its motion, but empty space is not enough. In order for matter to move, it needs both the ability and the tendency to do so.

Matter’s tendency to move can be intrinsic to the moving objects, or extrinsic. For example, if an astronaut in orbit accelerates a tool bag away from his or her body, during the first interval after the acceleration the distance between the astronaut and the tool bag will increase by a certain amount. Ignoring mild interactions with relatively nearby objects, one equal period later that distance will have increased again by the same amount and, as time progresses, it will keep increasing until something else forces the situation to change. The tendency to move away, injected into the tool bag by the astronaut, seems to travel along with the moving object as if it were somehow inside it; that is why I call it intrinsic. In standard terms, it is an object’s kinetic energy.

But back on Earth, a related experiment will yield different results because the interaction with large nearby objects is not negligible. If you hold a tool bag some distance above the planet’s surface, very still so that it doesn’t have any intrinsic tendency to move in relation to your body, you will find that you don’t need to impart any motion to it, simply release it, for it to exhibit quite a large tendency to move downwards anyway. However, this is a different kind of tendency to move in the sense that it does not seem to travel along with the moving object. Once the tool bag rests on the ground, it will not accelerate downwards any further unless you (or some other agent) actively move it upwards. But as soon as the object is moved a little further up, it will display a tendency to go back down. This tendency to move behaves as if it were somehow located around objects, not inside them, and that is why I call it extrinsic (potential energy in standard terms, gravitational in this case). But it is only a behaviour; not a structure you can physically bump into out there. Matter’s tendency to move does not occupy any volume around material objects.

Intrinsic tendency to move can be transformed into extrinsic tendency to move and vice versa. If you accelerate a stone upwards, it will gain extrinsic tendency to move down at the same rate as it loses intrinsic tendency to move up; the stone will decelerate until it no longer moves upwards. At that moment, it will begin accelerating downwards and its gained extrinsic tendency to move will be transformed back into intrinsic tendency to move. In other words, the kinetic energy injected to it by our acceleration will be transformed into gravitational potential energy as the stone reaches its highest altitude, and back into kinetic energy as it accelerates downwards again.

Energy is deeply related to stability in the sense that the latter reflects the lack of change while the former, at least in my view, reflects the tendency to do so. The more energy a system has, the more likely it is to change, and thus the more unstable it is. But the relationship is not linear, because energy may be locked into specific arrangements of matter if their inner constituents have a tendency to move but not the ability to do so. For example, consider an everyday object, such as an umbrella. There are wonderful technological advances in the field, but I am thinking of the classic umbrella with the curved handle and all.

For the purpose of this illustration, there are two relatively stable states (open, closed) in which the object can be found, and two reversible processes (opening, closing) that can transform each state into the other.

The process of opening a closed umbrella requires us to actively slide, using through our muscles the energy in our bodies, the center piece along the rod, overcoming the tension on the fabric cover, as well as gravity if we do it with the rod pointing upwards. At some point, the center piece will start pushing a triangular tab along the side, attached to a spring, and part of the energy we deliver into the system will be absorbed in its compression (i.e., the compressed spring will have a tendency to return to its relaxed state). Once the center piece passes the triangular tab, the spring will push it back out, preventing the center piece from sliding back down and thus locking the umbrella in the open state.

Opening an umbrella is overall an endothermic process; it requires energy from an external source for it to happen and much of it remains stored in the tension of the fabric cover and spikes, as well as the gravitational potential energy gained by different elements as they are raised in height. But the last stage of the process, when the triangular tab is pushed out, is exothermic because the energy needed to drive it is stored in the compressed spring and released as it expands again.

The opposite is true about the reverse process. Closing an umbrella is overall an exothermic process, because the energy needed to drive it is contained in the structure and it is released as it returns to the closed state. However, the initial stage is endothermic; we first need to actively press the triangular piece and compress the spring before the center piece can slide back down. The energy released in the last stage of an endothermic process, which is the energy that needs to be applied to the system in order to start the reverse exothermic process, is called the activation energy of the latter, and it is what enables some arrangements of matter to store tendency to move.

So an umbrella can be found in two relatively stable states: a low energy closed state and a high energy open state. Both are relatively stable because the initial stage for their transformation into a different state is endothermic in either case, but the open state is more likely to develop into the closed state spontaneously (for example if the locking mechanism is defective) than the opposite, because the energy required to drive the transformation is already contained in the system. In other words, a system with relatively little energy will remain unchanged for longer intervals of time than a system with more energy, because its inner constituents have less tendency to move away from their relative locations.

In a universe that is constantly changing, every complex structure that is an arrangement of two or more simpler components is susceptible of becoming disintegrated into those components if they gain enough energy to move independently from one another. Some structures, such as the planet on which we stand, are stable due to the huge amounts of matter they contain (the planet is tiny compared to many other structures out there, but it is huge when compared to us). Due to their gravitational interactions, in order to make all its bits and pieces move away from each other, a huge amount of energy needs to be applied to the lot. Planets are tough.

But there is a subset of existing structures that achieve their relative stability not through being massive and tough, but by being small and clever: living beings extract energy from the motion of things around them and inside them, and use it in order to increase their structural stability; in order to exist for longer in time. Although I think life is interesting enough a topic to deserve its own thread.

In all, I “understand” that abstract ability to exert a force over a distance (although I may not understand it at all) as a reflection of the real universe’s constant tendency to change.

Does this make sense? I hope it does, but I apologise if it doesn’t; it is a notion that is difficult to describe. Still, I thank you if you’ve managed to read it and I’m looking forward to learning your view on the subject.

Have a good day!
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19-04-2014, 06:31 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives: energy
With a 65 blood count, I have a lack of.

Will that do?

Also, I get the Gathering perspective threads mixed up. Can you vary the titles more?

If I seem confused it is because "Your brain is operating on only half oxygen".
My Doctor.

Recently suffered loss of intelligence. Had little to begin with! I should not miss it.
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19-04-2014, 06:46 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives: energy
(19-04-2014 06:31 AM)Banjo Wrote:  With a 65 blood count, I have a lack of.

Will that do?
Yeah, that makes sense. The lack of oxygen causes your cells to operate anaerobically, extracting less energy from their usual sources, and they need plenty of energy to drive numerous simultaneous processes. I hope this remark is not inappropriate because I am not sure of what your health problems are, but do wish that you get better and hopefully soon.

(19-04-2014 06:31 AM)Banjo Wrote:  Also, I get the Gathering perspective threads mixed up. Can you vary the titles more?
Yeah, I am sorry. They are a bit monotonous, aren't they?

Would it be enough if the original thread were renamed to "Gathering perspectives: existence and reality"? Or maybe just drop the whole "gathering perspectives" thing? I like that prefix, though, because even though I may present my view, my goal with this series of threads is gathering other people's perspectives about different subjects.

Any suggestion is welcome.

Take care, Banjo. Thanks for your always valuable view.
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19-04-2014, 07:04 AM
RE: Gathering perspectives: energy
No worries mate.

Yeah drop the gathering thing.

I tried to read your other thread but cannot understand it now. It confused me. Gasp

Recently suffered loss of intelligence. Had little to begin with! I should not miss it.
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