# The nature energy

A.T.
If energy is an "abstract concept", if you buy batteries for your flashlight, but when you get home you find that the batteries are dead, you don't have much of a case to demand your money back.

1) The value of the money is an abstract concept as well.

2) I'm not paying for an abstract concept, but for batteries in a certain state, which is quantified by an abstract concept.

Abstract just means it can be applied to different objects as a measure. It is not different from length: you can buy a meter of string or a meter of cable. But you pay for the string and cable not for the concept of length.

It's no one else's responsibility that you have decided to form a particular concept.
When making business, both side must agree on the concepts of value they use.

A.T.
I do not say 'abstract concept, and merely a property... ' as DaleSpam.
I said that, not DaleSpam. And you do say it too:
All of them have Energy and this property is the common denominator to all entities.
If a property can be applied to all existing entities, it has to be pretty abstract.

could you provide an example
Consider the DDWFTTW cart. According to the spectator's perspective, energy flows from the air-mass to the cart and to the ground. But from the passenger's perspective, energy flows from the ground to the cart and to the air.

In all reference frames, the same net quantity is transferred from the internal kinetic energy of the ground-air system, to the cart (where it transforms to frictional heat while the cart avoids decelerating).

Another example of energy's non-tangible-ness is the non-localisability of (say) gravitational potential energy. Energy can be ascribed to the configuration of the whole system, but not located in any the components individually.
Do you regard E = mc2 as indicating a relative or absolute amount of energy? My intuition says it is relative if only due to the fact that mass and the speed of light require a unit scheme which may be arbitrarily imposed (by conventional custom).
Recognise that you are arbitrarily redefining "relative" to try to include not just the observer's velocity but some kind of gauging freedom (and ignoring that fundamental scales can exist, such as Plank's constant). Anyway, E=mc2 can be chosen to indicate both relative(-istic) mass-energy or absolute (rest) energy.

If energy is an "abstract concept", if you buy batteries for your flashlight, but when you get home you find that the batteries are dead, you don't have much of a case to demand your money back.
You can't refute this one thus, or you'll have no grounds for complaint when the depleted batteries that I sell you are nonetheless augmented with warm lead (you're confusing total energy content with your ability to harness work).

"Light is a form of energy" To me it is like saying: "A ruler is a form of length"
Thinking of energy as tangible does lead to psuedoscientific mysticism. I like your length analogy: people conceive length as a numerical measurable item of trivia about an object, rather than an independent entity.

But energy is a useful concept precisely because of what it has in common with tangible fluids: global and local conservation of an additive quantity, and transferability between vessels. Can you think of a way to include similar non-triviality in your analogy?

All of them have Energy and this property is the common denominator to all entities.
We can not have an entity without energy.

The Universe evolves because entities exchange energy.
The all universe is about energy.
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If an object has totally maximized its entropy with respect to its surroundings, does the system (say Universe) of objects still have "energy"? Can the object still exchange energy with another object if the entropy of the system is already maximum? If the object can exchange energy with another object, then the entropy is not maximized. If an object has maximized its own entropy, it can still receive, but not transmit, energy to any other object. In this case, does the object cease to be an object?
Bob S

Dale
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Energy has the exact same scientific basis to be called "real" or "tangible" as length or mass or charge etc. All of them are important parts of a physical theory that has been experimentally validated with overwhelming evidence. If you want to exclude one such concept from your definition of "real" then you have no scientific justification not to exclude the rest.

Typically you would say that energy is a property of a system. But I don't understand your point about energy being a theoretical concept. All physics concepts are theoretical concepts, but the theory matches well with experiment so it accurately describes and predicts the behavior of nature.

Mass, for example, is a definite property of a body. I can theoretically make a machine that measure the mass of body (i mean, with nothing to do with gravity), because mass is an absolute property of the body..

but it's meaningless to say the energy of a body is some amount of jouls.. because it depends on reference frame..

i have once seen that a box of chocolate contains some amount of jouls.... so what the hell is that means?!

Dalespam's post #8 is right on: it's silly to define "abstract" as anything we can't sense directly. That might mean light is "tangible", X-rays are "abstract". Or something at 98.6degrees is "abstract" because we might not feel it while all other temps are "tangible".
i have no problem to understand there things we cannot feel and there are real as things we can... my problem is different.. i think :)

i do distinguish between a few types of quantities.. for example, once again, mass. even at the atomic level, an atom or molecule, has a definite mass. the atom/molecule "knows" its mass.. it's a property of the atom..
same thing with acceleration. acceleration may be relative, but the universe it self, has its inertial system. to me, acceleration is kind of absolute or relative to the universe...

energy anyway (i think), is just an artificial calculation. if you "look" at an atom, you won't see amount of energy accumulated in it..
just like velocity.. an atom doesn't know what velocity it is moving at, because it has no meaning.. it has one velocity relative to one body, and another velocity relative to other body.. there is no absolute velocity..

so is it, like absolute ********?

Yes, use a bathroom scale. (Energy is proportional to inertia, E=mc2, though it might be more useful to know how much can be thermodynamically harnessed.)
Kinetic energy of (the centre of mass of) an isolated system (as a whole) isn't physically important, and subtracting that, even (total) kinetic energy of the individual moving parts of a system is frame invariant (not relative).

you are confusing me... i've just been told energy is relative, so how can the energy of a body can be measured if there is no absolute energy?

Dale
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Mass, for example, is a definite property of a body. I can theoretically make a machine that measure the mass of body (i mean, with nothing to do with gravity), because mass is an absolute property of the body..

but it's meaningless to say the energy of a body is some amount of jouls.. because it depends on reference frame..
You have to be a little careful defining your terms here, there are different kinds of mass and different kinds of energy. Rest mass is equivalent to rest energy (E=mc²) and both are invariant (all coordinate systems agree). On the other hand, relativistic mass is similarly equivalent to total energy and both are relative (depend on the coordinate system chosen). So, to make the distinction you have made you must be specifically talking about the invariant rest mass when you say "mass" and the relative total energy when you say "energy" (that is my prefered convention, btw).

However, my point is that there is no scientific reason to classify invariant quantities as "real" and relative quantities as "not real" as both have the same scientific status. You are perfectly free to do so on any philosophical or aesthetic grounds you choose, but then the whole discussion becomes purely semantic.

you are confusing me... i've just been told energy is relative, so how can the energy of a body can be measured if there is no absolute energy?
Just because something is relative does not mean that it is not measurable. Time, distance, momentum, energy, frequency, wavelength, electric and magnetic fields, and many other things are all measurable relative quantities.

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Just because something is relative does not mean that it is not measurable. Time, distance, momentum, energy, frequency, wavelength, electric and magnetic fields, and many other things are all measurable relative quantities.

so relative to what are you measure it?
and what doest it mean a box of chocolate contains X amount of jouls?

Dale
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so relative to what are you measure it?
Relative to whatever coordinate system is convenient. All you have to do is specify the coordinate system you are using.
and what doest it mean a box of chocolate contains X amount of jouls?
In means that if you burn it in a bomb calorimeter you get X J of thermal energy released. This is a measure of the chemical rest energy, so it is frame invariant.

This concept of absolute versus relative "energy" has me confused.

I am not a theoretical physicist, but it seems to me, zero is an imaginary number, and there is no way to measure "zero" anything.

Therefore when we assign a number value to a measured quantity, we always assign some state of existance a "zero" value, when in fact, the exact amount of the quantity in the unverse is indeterminable.

Perhaps a reference frame is invariant, and apparently the amount of chemical energy is the same when we burn two samples of a similar mass and material regardless of the numbers and units assigned. However, in no way am I convinced that a number assigned to a measurement is in anyway an absolute quantity, because there is a choice in which number to assign to the quantity.

The laws of physics should predict the same differences in energy during a process when we account for reference frame and unit transformations, so what is absolute in this process besides the methods applied by observers being consistently defined and applied?

A.T.
zero is an imaginary number
Is 0^2 negative?
and there is no way to measure "zero" anything.
Why?
The laws of physics should predict the same differences in energy during a process when we account for reference frame and unit transformations,
A process like acceleration might not even take place in some frames. Energy conservation is valid within a frame not between frames.

Zero is a memory process. If I say "there are zero elephants in the room," you must first imagine one elephant to understand the quantity "zero elephants." Elephants exist but zero elephants exists as an imaginary number, not as zero elephants! Can you measure zero without a positive definition attached to the idea of zero?

Here are the definitions of SI base units.

http://physics.nist.gov/Pubs/SP811/appenA.html

The numbers assigned to measured physical quantities under these definitions are different than if one applies British Engineering units, so the numbers are relative.

Someone mention's Planck's constant above. A google search shows the number for this constant is a variable depending on which system of units is applied. If the numbers vary then what is meant by "absolute" measurement?

A.T.
Dale
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This concept of absolute versus relative "energy" has me confused.

I am not a theoretical physicist, but it seems to me, zero is an imaginary number, and there is no way to measure "zero" anything.
Sure you can. Obviously you can only measure any number (including zero) to within the precision of your measuring device, but within that limit you can easily measure zero. Also, as A.T. mentioned 0 is a real number.
Perhaps a reference frame is invariant, and apparently the amount of chemical energy is the same when we burn two samples of a similar mass and material regardless of the numbers and units assigned. However, in no way am I convinced that a number assigned to a measurement is in anyway an absolute quantity, because there is a choice in which number to assign to the quantity.

The laws of physics should predict the same differences in energy during a process when we account for reference frame and unit transformations, so what is absolute in this process besides the methods applied by observers being consistently defined and applied?
I can't parse this at all. If you think it is important and would like an answer then could you please rephrase it?

Yes, I confused the appropriate terms used for conventional number theory. Still, calling zero or negative numbers "real" does not imply anything other than a conventional name.

I think my points are valid just the same.

Dale
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Yes, I confused the appropriate terms used for conventional number theory. Still, calling zero or negative numbers "real" does not imply anything other than a conventional name.

I think my points are valid just the same.
They might be, but I can't understand them enough to tell. The "conventional names" and "appropriate terms" are important because they aid communication. Please try to use them correctly to get your point across.

DaleSpam,

"A number without a unit is meaningless," my old professor used to say. When I measure zero of some quantity, I do so with respect to a positive definition of that quantity, and I assume something positive is absent in the problem.

An example is NASA failure due to confusing MKS units and British Engineering units in the mars climate orbirter. The project burned up because the programmers specified numbers in one system and the thrust engineers assumed the other system, so the thrust was wrong.

If the procedure to assign numbers and units is via a relative convention, that can be altered by intention or accident, then how does one "measure" energy in an absolute sense if the numbers assigned are relative to many socially agreed upon arbitrary definitions?

I think that states my question properly. The symbolic equations are the same, but the numbers we assign can never come up with some absolute scale of energy, as far as I can fathom at this point.

Dale
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OK, I think I understand your objection. Let me try out this example and see if I am getting the point. Let's use the famous E=mc² formula to calculate the invariant energy released from the annihilation of an electron and a positron in their mutual rest frame.

The rest mass of an electron or positron is 9.1E-31 kg and c is 3.0E8 m/s so the energy released is (2 9.1E-31 kg) (3.0E8 m/s)² = 1.6E-13 J. All reference frames agree that 1.6E-13 J was released.

The rest mass of an electron or positron is 511 keV/c² and c is c so the energy released is (2 511 keV/c²) (c²) = 1.02 MeV. All reference frames agree that 1.02 MeV was released.

Is your concern: how can all reference frames absolutely agree that 1.6E-13 J was released if they can also all absolutely agree that 1.02 MeV was released? If so the answer is that 1.6E-13 J = 1.02 MeV, they are the same thing.

DaleSpam,

Look at it again. Doesn't your example demonstrate my original closing comment where an observer applies a law of physics, describes standard units of measure, and then considers the net change in energy during a process to be equivalent in two relative unit systems?

The laws of physics should predict the same differences in energy during a process when we account for reference frame and unit transformations, so what is absolute in this process besides the methods applied by observers being consistently defined and applied?

I know the change in energy is the same for this particular process when measured, but in what sense does measuring the energy of a process give us an absolute reference point?

Dale
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Look at it again. Doesn't your example demonstrate my original closing comment where an observer applies a law of physics, describes standard units of measure, and then considers the net change in energy during a process to be equivalent in two relative unit systems?
Yes, the change in energy is equivalent in both J and eV.

I know the change in energy is the same for this particular process when measured, but in what sense does measuring the energy of a process give us an absolute reference point?
In the sense that all coordinate systems (reference frames) will agree on this value. Btw, I prefer the term "invariant" to "absolute" because it is more clear.

Physical properties are not abstractions. What are abstract are the way that we refer to them, representing them by making vocal sounds, or marks with ink on paper going from left to right, etc. The things to which the symbols refer exist objectively. The forms of expression are creations of the mind. This distinction is confused by those who say that the physical properties are abstractions.

DaleSpam,

I appreciate the extra effort. I must investigate the nature of invariant reference frames to improve my understanding.

It is still my understanding that the Conservation Laws only allow us to measure and specify that the change in energy during an interaction, measured in both the system and surroundings, equals zero. This is accomplished by assigning energy states in any relative manner consistent with good measurement procedures, and there is no absolute energy value involved in the process.

If I live in a universe that is a vast sea of energy in perpetual motion (transferring power continuously) ... where in the heck am I going to discover "the one and only zero energy" reference point?

To imagine zero energy I must picture non-existence!

A.T.
Physical properties are not abstractions.
I think you just misunderstand what 'abstraction' means in that context. It just means a generalization of a concept, so it is applicable to a broader set of observed phenomena.

What are abstract are the way that we refer to them, representing them by making vocal sounds, or marks with ink on paper going from left to right, etc.
No, the vocal sounds and marks with ink on paper are not abstractions, but 'real' objects. They are just used to communicate abstract ideas.

This distinction is confused by those who say that the physical properties are abstractions.
I think that you confuse 'real' objects and their abstract properties. Let me give you an example:

Mathematical abstraction:

A heap of 5 apples: The apples are 'real', but the number 5 is just a human idea, and the amount of entities is an abstract property of the heap of apples. It is called abstract, because it is not only applicable to this heap of apples, but all kinds of collections of all kinds of objects.

Physical abstraction:

A heap of variably sized sticks: The sticks are 'real', but their length is an abstract property of a stick. It is called abstract, because it is not only applicable to a certain stick, but to other sticks and many different objects.