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Fundamental States

  1. Jun 18, 2004 #1
    What is understood to be the fundamental "states" of energy? Not refering to the various "forms" of energy.

    Thanks for any input.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 19, 2004 #2
    Definitions are important!

    If you cannot define a word you use, then you do not know what you are talking about (that is a true statement by definition!)
    The conventional definition of "energy" is that it is the ability to do work. The basic problem with that definition is that it requires one to know the definition of "work". The conventional definition of "work" is that it is "force" applied over a "distance". Now we have to define "force" and "distance". (Does this seem to be a growing problem?)

    "Force" is conventionally defined through Newton's "F=ma" and "distance" is measure of difference between two positions in our "coordinate system". Now we have to know what "mass" and "acceleration" are and exactly how that coordinate system is set up; which must include a definition of "difference". (At this point it should be quite clear that this is a "growing" problem!)

    All we can really say about "mass" is that it is a measure of something associated with things and how they move under a "force". (Whoa, is this reasoning starting to sound a little circular?) Acceleration is defined to be the second derivative of position with respect to time. Now at least we are getting down to the characteristics of that coordinate system. So we need to get a solid hold on how that coordinate system is defined!

    Well, now I am in big trouble. In order to make sense, I need to define that coordinate system without referring to any of the concepts above as they are all defined in terms of that coordinate system (all except mass perhaps; but even mass appears to be a phenomenological entity defined by the rest of the concepts).

    The problem I find myself with is that the geometry held as valid by modern physicists is defined by the need to make all those other definitions roughly consistent with what we observe (I say "roughly" because conventional physics only requires the definitions make sense when brought back to the Newtonian picture where the concepts are somewhat well defined). Now that seems to me to be circular in its very essence. The attack, as it is presented by the scientific community, is irrational on the face of it.

    Why not just cut to the chase and define our expectations to be given by some algorithm [itex]\vec{\Psi}^\dagger\cdot\vec{\Psi}[/itex] (an absolutely general expression for producing a number capable of being seen as a measure of expectation: i.e., an number in the range zero to one). Define time to be an argument of [itex]\vec{\Psi}[/itex] and finish the problem by defining "energy" to be the expectation value of the derivative with respect to time where the "expectation" of a mathematical operator is given by [itex]\vec{\Psi}^\dagger\cdot[/itex](that operator)[itex]\vec{\Psi}[/itex].

    Now every thing is clear and well defined. We at least know what we are talking about. If you can, think about that for a while! Hurkyl, you are the mathematician, tell me if what I have said is rational or irrational.

    Have fun -- Dick
  4. Jun 19, 2004 #3
    Hi Doc, Thanks alot for your time and effort.

    I guess I have a problem with semantics. I'm really not looking for the classical description of energy.

    Maybe I should try to explain exactly what I mean by "fundamental states". Example; If a proton can decay, then, it does not exist in it's fundamental state. On the other hand, If the proton does not decay, then it exist in it's fundamental state.

    You're absolutely right Doc. Some of us have problems trying to communicate our intend without raising more questions than answers. I wish there was a simple solution, but I don't have it. So, I'll just keep throwing my questions out there and take whatever you can dish out. But, don't you dare send me to my room!

    Stay active.
  5. Jun 22, 2004 #4
    Let's make your inquiry exact!

    First, I would like to say that I find your response quite rational. It is quite nice to receive a rational response as they are really quite rare on forums. Thank you very much for being rational; however, I think you have misinterpreted my note to you.

    Science is an exact field and being exact means knowing exactly what you are talking about. Many people consider definition to be a "semantic" issue outside the interest of "physics" (that includes professional physicists as a matter of fact). If one takes the trouble to review the realizations which have lead to the great breakthroughs of scientific thought, one will realize that that they almost all flow from the careful examination of exactly what is meant by the statements made by scientists. Scientists (as they are human and just like all the rest of us) think in terms they were brought up to think with. On occasion, someone notices some subtle flaw in the structures dreamed up by our great scientists and from that, great advances are made.

    Knowing exactly what we mean is very important because, if we do not know exactly what we mean, "we don't know what we are talking about" and our conclusions are anything but exact. All I was trying to say with my response to you was that you should take careful care to "know" exactly "what you are talking about". If you do understand and know "exactly what you are talking about", you are one up on everybody else. And that includes all the professionals.

    Whenever you discuss any subject, your first step should be to carefully define (to yourself) exactly what you mean by each concept you refer to. Now this may remove much idle trash from you are able to put fourth, but it will make what you put forth very worthwhile even if those who read it deride it.

    Sorry, but I will be off on the road for about three weeks and will not be able to check this forum except via others computers (which you should all know is questionable) but I will look when the occasion arises.

    Have fun – Dick
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