Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Conservation laws for intangibles such as value?

  1. Aug 1, 2005 #1


    User Avatar

    This is probably a complete quack of an idea, but I can't get it out of my mind. I can't tell if it belongs more on an economics board, though. :bugeye:

    Could conservation laws exist for quantities which are not tangible?

    We all know there are laws like conservation of momentum, energy, and so forth. I've wondered: is there such a thing as conservation of value (or at least importance)? Could conservation laws exist for quantities which are not tangible?

    Consider the following scenarios.

    1. Abraham Lincoln was very important and well-known. When he was shot, he was lost -- but the assassin became very (in)famous. The more important the person assassinated, the more notorious the assassin becomes. In effect, value or importance is conserved.

    2. Something very valuable is duplicated. Each one becomes half as important because of supply and demand. Value is conserved.

    3. You have to do an important job. First you wind up with an important job to do. The job is done and its importance dissipates, but now you yourself wind up more valuable. The more valuable the job, the more prestige you get. Value is once again conserved.

    Again, this probably a real quack of an idea, but I can't get out of my head :frown:

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 2, 2005 #2
    It's not quacky.

    These are some of the foundations of economic theory.

    Capital (cash especially) is like a wound up spring, or potential energy.
    Purchasing something i.e. trade is like kinetic energy.
    Wear and tear (i.e. capital depreciation) is like friction. Value decreases over time.

    That's why Wall Street hires physiscists to make value models in their research
    departments- because like the analogy of voltage to pressure, these are useful
    ideas and solutions in one realm sometimes help in another.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?