This is my personal thoughts, opinions and musings place. I will also rant about things, especially politically-correct things that irritate me. And sci-fi. Did I mention sci-fi? There'll be lots of sci-fi stuff here. And movies, too. Mmmmm... Movies

Friday, February 25, 2005

Reality and the world of 3D - Part 08

Reality - Continued 7

“May the Force be with you!” and “Use the Force, Luke!”

Possibly two of the most famous movie lines ever. Even people who hated those movies(and no, I'm not going to name them) are familiar with the quotes themselves. But in the immortal words of Cat from Red Dwarf, “What is it?”. Starting with this section, we will attempt to define what force is. And I'm not talking about that Force!

First, let's look a dictionary definition of “force”. For our purposes, we're only interested in definitions 4a and 4b. To paraphrase, force is something acts upon other objects. As such, forces are gravity, wind, sound. These are forces we do not see. There are visible forces, however.

Once such is a moving wave. When a wave hits a boat, it rocks from side to side, depending on the size and strength of the wave. This is also known as kinetic energy. Let's look at the way these various forces act on objects.

Take, for instance, gravity. Ordinarily, we don't think about it. Of course, we're aware of it on a subconscious level, and we take it for granted. We rarely even think about it, we just know it's there, being, well, gravity. Knock a glass of a table and gravity will break it across a floor for us. Jump out of an airplane and you have an appointment with the ground eventually. Bad gravity! Bad! But wait! There's more! You want to go for a car ride? Gravity's there to help you accomplish that goal.

“But I thought it was friction that lets cars move?” you say. Well, true. But without gravity to hold the car on the ground, friction would do you no good whatsoever. So, gravity can do good things and bad things. Of course, as far as gravity itself is concerned, they're neither good nor bad, only how we perceive them. Hang yourself upside down from acrobatic rings and your hair will move straight up, only it will actually be hanging straight down.

What about wind? Well, stand atop a hill in loose clothing on a windy day and you get two demonstrations of wind for the price of one. First, wind tries hard to move you in the direction it is travelling, and second, it succeeds partially with your loose clothing. If it weren't for the fact that solid objects can't move through other solid objects, your loose clothing would blow straight off. Instead, it just flops around in the wind. So, here we've just introduced resistance to force.

Now, what about wind blowing against a flexible object, such as a tree? Well, as the wind blows, the tree bends with it. If the wind is strong enough, and the tree is weak enough, the tree will break. Wind blowing against water will produce waves.

Let's take a quick look at sound. By itself, sound is simply a vibration that is passed through other objects like a rock, air, water or glass. Most objects have some facility to transmit sound, but they change it as it passes through them. Sometimes the force of sound is so strong and of just the right frequency that it breaks other objects. Case in point, some kinds of singing by certain people and wine glasses. I don't really know if it's possible in real life, but movies sure make a lot of use of it.

Phew! This was a long one. In the next section, we'll talk about how all this hangs together. Please stay tuned...

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