Heinz Heinzmann


Do we need a New Understanding of Nature?

Historical remark; criticism of the status quo of physics and philosophy; listing of open questions and unsolved problems – however only of such which a solution will be proposed to in the following.

The basis of the currently prevailing view of nature is the assumption that everything which exists and which occurs can be traced back to the motion of elementary entities that interact with each other.

At the beginning of his famous "Lectures" (first passage of 1-2), Richard Feynman tells us:

"If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or the atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms – little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another."

The past history of this conception of the world is quite a short story. Its inventors are Leucippus and Democritus. They thought the world as consisting of very small, changeless particles of different shape, moving permanently, without cause and forever.

Dynamics – the theory of the movement of objects – begins with Aristotle. He differentiates between two kinds of movement: Objects move either because they aim at their natural position, or because they are forced to move by an exterior cause that must directly touch them. When they have reached their natural position – the heavy things at the bottom, the light things above – and if no exterior force is acting on them, they remain at rest.

This gives rise to the question of why a stone that is thrown upwards is still moving upwards when it has left the hand. According to Aristotle the answer must be: Because the medium surrounding the stone – the air, which is set into motion by the movement of the arm – is continually acting on the stone, forcing it to move further.

However the air seems all to thin to be qualified for exerting such a force on a comparatively heavy stone. (Try blowing.)

After quite a long time – in fact not before the Middle Ages – this contradiction led to the hypothesis that the cause for the continuous upward movement of the stone cannot be found in the movement of the air but has to be seen as an attribute of the stone itself: the throwing motion provides the stone with a so-called impetus (a predecessor of the modern momentum), which is driving the stone upwards while gradually weakening until it has completely dwindled away, leaving the stone again to its drive toward its natural position at the bottom, where at last it will come to rest.

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