Author Topic: The physical laws were discovered or invented?  (Read 3947 times)

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Offline Angel without wings

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The physical laws were discovered or invented?
« on: August 21, 2011, 00:07:04 AM »

While there is some consensus on the properties of natural laws, disagreements prevail when referring to their status: These patterns reveal legitimate laws of nature, or are they merely the products of man's imagination?

Newton's law of gravitation and Maxwell's laws of electromagnetism translate fundamental relationships and objects of nature, or they are simply brilliant inventions that Newton and Maxwell used to describe regularities they perceive subjectively?

Two camps have formed around this issue. On one side is the "realistic," which states that laws exist independently of us and are just waiting to be discovered. Following in the footsteps of Plato, a realist insists that the laws of nature reside in the world of ideas and have an intrinsic reality, distinct from sensible reality. Across the field is "constructivist," for which the natural laws of birth only of physical and imagination do not exist anywhere except the neurons and synapses of humans.

Between these two diametrically opposed points of view, I'm honestly on the side of realistic. I am convinced that I perceive regularities in nature are not a creation of my mind. Young stars emerging from the stellar nurseries, the delicate arms that decorate the spiral galaxies have an intrinsic reality. A constructivist would probably counter that the human mind has a tendency to see regularities and patterns where none exist.

They would point to the regularities that the thought of the old saw in the constellations of the sky, they exist only in the minds of men, because the shapes assigned to these constellations - a bear, a swan, or a lyre, et cetera - have varied according to cultures and eras.

Despite this propensity of the human mind to imagine standards, I believe that constructivists are wrong when they ask regularities at a deeper level, one that we refer to as the "laws of Nature." These laws reflect very real regularities that are not inventions our imagination, but exist independently of ourselves.

There are several reasons for my conviction. For starters, the scientific search would be meaningless if the regularities were imaginary. Second, the laws derived from regularities that are perceived as bring new, additional and revealing unexpected patterns of Nature. In fact, the great theories of physics do more than just provide a simple description of regularities have been discovered.

They lead us to paths unknown, uncharted areas, and discover unsuspected harmonies. Newton built his grand theory of gravitation in order to take account of planetary motion, but it also allowed him to understand the movement to and fro of the ocean tides. The English astronomer Edmund Halley (1656-1742) used it to predict that the famous comet now called by its name would return to visit humanity every seventy-six years.

When Maxwell outlined the laws of electromagnetism, he never anticipated that his equations also reveal him to electric and magnetic waves were nothing more than light. When Einstein developed his special theory of relativity, he had no idea it would lead him to discover that the matter can be transformed into energy, this mass-energy equivalence is what makes the sun shine, and that would be responsible for the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He could not have predicted that his theory of general relativity lead to strange and exotic objects such as neutron stars and black holes. Under the laws reveal unsuspected relationships, regularities that never crossed our minds, they could not possibly be a pure product of our imagination.

Author: Leopoldino dos Santos Ferreira
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