Perhaps due to my lack of comprehensive understanding of what energy is and where it comes from but I found out that writing this piece was not as easy as the previous two articles. The issue of defining energy has continually been a struggle for scientists, engineers and philosophers for many centuries now.
In most physics or science text book, you will find that there is no “definition” of energy, there might be a vague sentence along the lines of “Energy exists in many different forms. Examples of these are: light energy, heat energy, nuclear or atomic energy and so on. These forms of energy can be transferred and transformed between one another”.
The problem with these definitions are that they describe the transfer of energy or name different types of energy. If I were to ask you to define what you were wearing last night, you will probably say “I was wearing a red shirt, blue jeans and a pair of Nike shoes”. This is something I call a vague descriptive definition because what I wanted to know was what makes up your outfit i.e. what atoms or elementary particles are present in the dye used to get your blue jeans. These questions can be answered for practically most things but unfortunately, not for energy.
According to the world-view of Quantum mechanics, our universe is made up of time, space, matter and energy. Matter is made up of elementary particles, Time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it, space is a boundless four-dimensional continuum and energy is… What is energy? This question has continually boggled my mind as we have never seen a picture of energy nor felt it…But have we? If you touch a boiling hot rod, there is an energy transfer which in turn we can say we have felt thermal energy or when we look at light from a LED bulb we can say we have seen energy but as I have already persisted, Energy is not made up of anything we know.
Although the only logical conclusion is that it seems like energy is merely an abstract concept that physicists and engineers define as work done or (Force x Area), there is still a part of my mind that wants to believe energy is actually made up of something tangible. Maybe the way to keep my mind at rest is to think of Quantum mechanics which states that all form of energy come from distinct multiples such that electrical energy is made up from the flow of electrons and electromagnetic radiations are made up of photons inciting that the two forms of energy are made up of electrons and photons respectively. The problem with this is, not all form of energy can be broken down any further i.e. Kinetic or Gravitational energy are not made up of any physical quantity that we know of.
E = MC², the well known equation which was popularly put together by Albert Einstein is probably the simplest way to try and describe energy. The equation states the relationship between matter and energy in relation to the speed of light. Furthermore, it shows that energy and matter are equal, “Matter is every bit as abstract as energy and the ethereal energy that you hear about is as tangible as the matter you interact with”. This is because the equation shows that both matter and energy are interchangeable meaning that Einstein was basically saying that energy is equal to matter on a fundamental level.
I believe the way we should define the phenomenon is to view everything we see around us as energy since all things are made up of matter. When you look at yourself in the mirror remember that you are made out of matter, which in turn means you are fundamentally pure energy that is made up of several forms of energies i.e. Kinetic energy, thermal energy etc. When we die these form of energies will get transferred into another form of energy which can be used to create something different.
The thought of us being pure energy can be scary, fascinating or mysterious. Energy is a cycle and we are all in the midst of it. If we are just an irrelevant part of energy then what is our purpose? Where do we belong? Morty Smith from the popular adult swim cartoon show “Rick and Morty” states that; “Nobody exist on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere and we are all going to die”. This anticlimactic quote essentially tells us we are very irrelevant compared to the cycle in which we are a part of, the cycle of energy.
Energy is a fascinating topic and the content of this blog probably confused most of you that are used to layman terms but it was a fun writing it anyway. Like Rick Sanchez says; “Wubba lubba dub dub!” See you next week