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Overanalyzing things from a physics point of view

  1. Jul 13, 2014 #1
    Ever since i was young i've always been curious, but over time since i went to the university to enroll on a computer science degree (i have a MSc now), i started attempting to understand, decode, categorize and explain EVERYTHING in everyday life.

    Things went fine in the beginning, when i knew almost nothing about physics, i saw the world from a purely human point of view, just like computer science sees everything as information represented as bits and bytes, nothing else. In this context, i tried to understand algorithms we humans use in our everyday life, like finding the shortest distance path from our homes to the mall, or the best order of execution for home tasks. I thought i was getting obsessed with algorithms, but it was not so bad to apply them in everyday life, not as long as i saw these things from a EVERYDAY LIFE point of view.

    Things went rogue when i had my first physics subject in university, which was about classical mechanics, I learned about concepts like conservation of energy, mass, momentum, this last one was tricky since i had never thought before about how something always goes backward when something goes forward in the universe.

    Since i'm curious, i later tried to learn more things by myself, like fluid mechanics and henceforth. Even at this point i could cope with my overanalysis of things, but when i learned about even more concepts like heat dissipation in every process, i became obcessed that things we do in everyday life have consequences we ignore. Lets pick the previously mentioned subject of finding the shortest distance path from home to the mall. In the past it was pretty obvious to me that if i have a path 2km long and another one that is 5km long,
    the 2km path is obviously the way to go, its just a matter of math, 2<5, therefore it's the best choice. But then, when i learned more about physics, i started wondering and obcessing about stuff like "although path 1 is shorter, i may dissipate less energy as heat throughout the travel... could this be a bad thing? Could it be that my car dissipating energy along the travel is good for something? Could the photons emited by my car serve some purpose, for instance, to melt a meteor that will travel to earth?" this is likely an exageration, i know,
    but i can provide other examples "if i put a box in a straight up position, it will most likely fall when someone touches it, since its center of mass is way too high. if i lay it down, it wont fall that easily. But is it a good thing to have it laid down? What if having it fall could cause some vibration down on the ground that will help on something? What if when i change its position the dissipated heat could be benign in some way?".

    I hope i'm not being too confuse, but this is really strating to trouble my mind, has anyone ever felt like this? I feel that what i'm saying does indeed make some sense, the consequences of our actions in our daily lives are not solely what we see and understand from our limited point of view, like in the shortest distance example.
    Even though my examples might seem exagerated, i cant stop thinking about this kind of stuff in everyday.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2014 #2

    jim hardy

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    Yes. I'm quite capable of obssessive-ism.

    When it gets too bad i have to declare a holiday from the inner chaos and pick up a good story written by somebody practical.
    Joseph Conrad is my favorite for that "return to reality" treatment.
    Try his "Typhoon" .


    old jim
     
  4. Jul 13, 2014 #3

    collinsmark

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    I may suggest studying a little about thermodynamics and the concept of entropy, which involves, in part, the concepts of "useful" energy and reversible processes.

    It changed how I look at everyday things anyway.
     
  5. Jul 13, 2014 #4

    jim hardy

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  6. Jul 13, 2014 #5
    First of all i'd like to thank you for all the attention. I've boomarked the suggested books, the one from Isaac seems pretty interesting.

    I've considered that collinsmark, but what's the point you're trying to reach? Is it that my worries are pointless? I believe that there is some truth in my thoughts, but maybe i'm just exagerating things from a human point of view. I may be wrong though =X
     
  7. Jul 13, 2014 #6

    jim hardy

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    That second Asimov book, while a work of fiction, has some great insights into entropy and reversibility.

    Asimov was the best "explainer of science for ordinary people" ever, in my opinion. His old collections of science essays are treasures for the inquiring mind. But they're out of print - look for them in secondhand bookstores.

    "Fact and Fancy" is of particular interest today. It was the first popular book i know of to mention global warming from CO2. Also Phosphorous as "Life's Bottleneck".
     
  8. Jul 13, 2014 #7

    collinsmark

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    Goodness, no. :eek: Nothing so bleak. Rather the contrary.

    In your original post you mentioned,

    What I meant by my suggestion is that the subjects of thermodynamics and entropy can not only produce a qualitative idea of what happens to energy when it is used and how it gets distributed, but also (in well defined cases) a quantitative measure of how much useful energy can be extracted from a given process.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2014
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