New Laws of Motion Challenge Classical Notions of Causality, Time and Gravity

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In a paper published in the annual issue of Progress in Physics, new laws of motion of Mechanics were presented. The laws are derived from the concept of power and can serve as an alternative to Newton’s laws. More importantly, the concept of force as the cause of motion is replaced by the concept of power in these laws. The switch from force to power as the cause of motion is new and intriguing and may lead to revisions of current theories, as some experts in the field have commented.

In the paper, “Power as the Cause of Motion and a New Foundation of Classical Mechanics”, published late last year in Progress in Physics, Efthimios Harokopos, an engineer who graduated from State University of New York at Buffalo with honors and then attended graduate school at Columbia University, presents laws of motion based on power as an alternative to Newton’s laws. The concept of force as the cause of motion is replaced by the concept of power in these laws. The switch from force to power as the cause of motion is new and intriguing and may open the door for revisions of current theories, as some experts in the field have commented.

Harokopos shows that starting from a principle he calls “the axiom of motion”, which is essentially an expression for the instantaneous power of a body in motion, one can derive two laws of Mechanics, the law of inertia and the law of interaction. Although Newton’s laws of motion, which include the law of inertia, the second law and the law of action-reaction, all have the status of a priori principle, the two laws of motion stated in the paper are deduced from one a priori principle. More importantly, the law of inertia derived in the paper by Harokopos allows curvilinear motion when the cause of motion is removed. Uniform circular motion, for example, is an effect of inertia according to the laws derived by Harokopos. In contrast, Newton’s law of inertia allows just rectilinear motion and the state of rest when there is no force acting on a body. It is shown in the paper that when power is considered as the cause of motion, Newton’s law of inertia is just a special case of a more general law of inertia. In the case of the law of interaction, which is the alternative to Newton’s law of action-reaction, it is shown in the paper that it is also more general than Newton’s law and such claim is supported by Newton’s own writings.

It is also shown in the paper by Harokopos that when power is defined as the cause of motion, the corresponding laws of motion retain their form for all moving observers. No addition of fictitious causes is necessary, as it is the case with Newton’s laws when applied to motion in non-inertial reference frames. Specifically, the application of Newton’s second law in non-inertial reference frames requires the addition of fictitious Centrifugal or Coriolis forces, depending on the motion involved. No equivalent modification is necessary when power is defined as the cause of motion and this is an important result stated in the paper. Thus, the switch from Newtonian force to power as the cause of motion eliminates a fundamental problem with the laws of motion that has generated heated discussions in the past and it is still the subject of philosophical debate. Some experts in the field have called this result intriguing.

Harokopos argues in his paper that if we postulate that power is the cause of all motion then gravitation must have power as its cause. A simple law of universal gravitation results from this argument when combined with the axiom of motion stated in the paper. Essentially, the revised law states that the time rate of change of kinetic energy equals the time rate of change of potential energy for all bodies in motion. From this simple relationship, the law of conservation of mechanical energy and the Law of Universal Gravitation can be derived. Harokopos argues that the Law of Universal Gravitation, the greatest accomplishment of Newton, just reveals the form of the gravitational potential function but it is not a general law of gravitational motion.

Harokopos attempts in his paper to ground the physics implied by the laws of motion based on power on new metaphysics and in this way arrive at a new foundation of Mechanics. Newton grounded his physics on the metaphysics of absolute space and universal time. The physics of the laws of motion based on power, and in particular the notion that emanates from his paper that all motion is due to energy transfers, are grounded on the metaphysics of an absolute space acting as a giant mechanism that coordinates such transfers. According to this new and intriguing metaphysical account, gravitation arises as a result of energy transfer between all bodies in motion and some unobservable substance, which acts as a giant mechanism and operates on rules that give rise to the well known Law of Universal Gravitation. Harokopos also deals with the concept of time, another great mystery of our world and discusses the implications on the nature of our physical reality of the metaphysical foundation he proposes. He argues that time emerges as an ordered progression of instances, or nows, on which a giant mechanism embedded in unobservable space, acts to bring about the effects in our world. This, he claims, is a straightforward revision of the old doctrine of Cartesian Occasionalism, which he dares to revise and rename Mechanical Occasionalism.

As an engineer with a thesis on motion control and part of a team that was granted an AT&T patent on a high-speed robotic workstation, Harokopos has had enough exposure to practical applications of Mechanics and realizes the value of the scientific process, as well as, the role experiments play in science. He would like to see theoretical and experimental physicists scrutinize his work. He believes that before one attempts to take a fresh look at physical reality it is worthwhile to investigate alternative laws of motion that can replace the laws based on the notion of force and that was the main subject of his paper. The notion that all motion and interactions are due to energy transfer mediated by a mechanism hidden in unobservable space is a new and bold step towards this direction.

The paper “Power as the Cause of Motion and a New Foundation of Classical Mechanics” is included in the annual issue of Progress in Physics for 2005 and it is also available from the Directory of Open Access Journals of Lund University at http://www.doaj.org/abstract?id=119444&toc=y/. The author maintains a web site at http://www.digitalcosmology.com/ with information about his theories and the alternative look at our physical reality he proposes and he is also in the process of writing a book about a new science he calls Digital Cosmology.

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Christina Harris
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