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Do things happen the way they can?

  1. Jun 6, 2015 #1
    In my schooldays, I read the law of diffusion. It stated that the particles of a solute migrate from the region of higher concentration to the region of lower concentration in a solution. I accepted it as a universal law without ever wondering why it happens so. After many years only, I came to know that it is simply a statistical phenomenon- particles of all the regions tend to randomly migrate in all possible directions, but the particles in the region of lower concentration have to face more resistance from the ones in the region of higher concentration, while the latter face less resistance from the former and hence succeed in migrating from the region of higher concentration to that of lower concentration. This suggests me of a simple principle- that things just happen the way they can, or the way they are allowed to- and the way they happen becomes a law. But as I am not a physicist, I do not know if there could be any truth in it.
    Here I also want to draw the attention of friends to a related analogy. When matter (and fields) starts its journey in the universe (that is, when they are in the process of forming sub-atomic particles or atoms), there are very less things and they have very limited opportunity to interact, hence physical laws are very strict- there is little chance of variation. After reaching atomic or molecular stages, they get more avenues to interact. This is why, probably, there is a little more liberty in chemistry- one element with different valences and the same elements making different molecules. And when they reach the level of macromolecules or bio-molecules- proteins and nucleic acids, they have much more opportunities to interact, and mutate also, and probably this is why we see so many variations in living beings.
    I am quite ignorant of physics. I shall be grateful to my learned colleagues if they could guide me whether my intuition- things happen the way they can- may be operating behind other laws of nature, like gravity etc.
     

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  3. Jun 6, 2015 #2
    "The way they can" is what the "laws" of physics models. The laws define how systems interact and the math predicts how a defined system evolves. The words we use to describe these mathematical relationships are irrelevant.
     
  4. Jun 6, 2015 #3

    phinds

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    I think your general sense of "things happen the way they can and then we make laws to describe that behavior" is a good description of non-biological nature and the underpinnings of physics. For biology, they also happen the way they can but at the macro level some ways go nowhere (have no survival value) and die off.
     
  5. Jun 6, 2015 #4
    Many thanks for this illuminating reply.
    Dayalanand
     
  6. Jun 6, 2015 #5
    Many thanks for this illuminating reply.
    Dayalanand
     
  7. Jun 7, 2015 #6
    " .........but at the macro level some ways go nowhere (have no survival value) and die off."[/QUOTE]

    Yes. But even the ways that go nowhere (have no survival value) have very important consequences in the living world. Were they not there, it would have been difficult to distinguish man from chimps and dogs from fox-there would have been an almost continuous gradation of species if all the intermediate species had survived.
    Thanks and regards
    Dayalanand
     
  8. Jun 7, 2015 #7

    phinds

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    Yes. But even the ways that go nowhere (have no survival value) have very important consequences in the living world. Were they not there, it would have been difficult to distinguish man from chimps and dogs from fox-there would have been an almost continuous gradation of species if all the intermediate species had survived.
    Thanks and regards
    Dayalanand[/QUOTE]
    Good point. I agree. In fact, the ramifications would probably have been much more serious than just what you mention.
     
  9. Jun 8, 2015 #8
    Good point. I agree. In fact, the ramifications would probably have been much more serious than just what you mention.[/QUOTE]

    Thanks
    But I think we are deviating from the main point. It was aimed at micro level. I want to learn if 'things happen the way they can' model has any role to play in basic physical phenomena, like gravity or the speed of light. regards
    dayalanand
     
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