Friday, September 17, 2010

What is the Energy Source? (Magnetism, Gravity, and Other “Forces”)

Do magnets ever run out?  Why do we stay on the Earth instead of flying off?  What causes opposites to attract?  At the end of the day, Science only really answers these questions in terms of the mechanisms that describe how they operate.  We still don’t know where all the energy comes from for these fields to exert a force on particular objects.

Take a magnet for example.  You stick it on your fridge and it stays there pretty much for ever.  No battery is required to make it happen, and it never seems to run down.  Surely it takes a lot of energy to hold the magnet there over the years that it is stuck in place.  It’s one thing to say that objects are attracted via magnetism and its actually a reduction in or absence of potential energy that is causing it to stick, so we don’t actually need energy; but there is still a force being transferred, so why does it happen, and why doesn’t that force affect other things like stainless steel?

Field theory was very popular as a way of explaining interactions between different types of particles.  As well as the obvious magnetism, electro-static, and gravitational effects, there were atomic and sub-atomic effects in action to hold atoms together with each other and to hold them together in themselves.  Mysterious “fields” became the way that these magical interactions became explainable.  No longer was that piece of metal able to make the other move without touching it, it was making contact via a field!  While this proved to be useful, it was a neat way of removing the magic of the interaction, and we would do well to remember that it is not sufficiently explained to satisfy anyone who is really curious.

In fact, nothing is really explained properly to satisfy the person who continually looks for the reason why.  Science can continue to explain how things happen and identify patterns in the universe, but when it gets right down to it, there is no way to completely explain why at the most fundamental level.  Not even the discovery of the Higgs boson (if it actually occurs) will do this.  It will merely shift the level of questioning deeper still.

To my mind, the only way that we can have anything happening in the natural, is for it to have a supernatural origin.  When it comes right down to the limits of the universe, both small and large, there has to be something beyond that making it all happen, otherwise we have things occurring without a cause, and that does not seem reasonable in a system where we see that everything requires a cause.  To find any un-caused cause, you have to look beyond this universe where cause is required.  Whatever you find, it must, by definition, be beyond the natural.