Maybe it’s my month-long fight with the Sandman, or the conversion to Daylight Savings on the weekend, but Houston, I think we have a problem.
You may recall Molly’s in grade twelve and taking physics. On occasion she requires parental help — a task which falls to the ToolMaster since he’s in a technical line of work. This weekend, however, he had other commitments. With Molly facing an exam, yours truly stepped into the gap.
Normally, that would be fun. I like to learn; I value education as a life-skill; and after living in the subjective world of art for days on end, I find satisfaction in the world of solid, immutable principles. So great. We did well. My daughter and I bonded over thermodynamics — because who in their right mind doesn’t bond in these kind of moments, really? — and got three-quarters of her study sheet done.
That’s when trouble struck. While she worked through an equation and tidied her conclusions, I flipped through her text.
Do you know what I stumbled upon, guys? Newton’s 1st Law of Motion, that’s what.
All I can say is, what are they teaching our children these days? Have you read this stuff recently? A body in motion tends to stay in motion; objects at rest tend to remain at rest.*
“This isn’t true,” I found myself saying even before I’d really had a chance to process the words. The longer I stared, though, the more I realised my instincts were correct.
I tried to explain it to the offspring, but I’m sorry to say it degenerated into a bit of a quarrel. She rolled her eyes at me, peeps! Then she proceeded to tell me how she didn’t have time for a “philosophic debate”; that she was under pressure to learn just enough to get a good mark, go into nursing, obtain a “living wage” and have a “life out from under the parental thumb.”
Faced with that kind of…illogic, I think you would have been proud of me. I took up the banner of learning being its own reward, waxed eloquent about the need for independent thought. I mean, just because our species has been to the moon and back based on this science doesn’t make it accurate. Right?
But don’t just take my word for it. That would kind of defeat the purpose of this post. So howsabout I give you my rationale for why we need to revisit some physics and we’ll see if you aren’t as perplexed by the end of it as I:
A body in motion tends to stay at motion:
Take a group of male teenagers, have them tool around on their BMX bikes, and then get a nearby girl to flash a boob. Are they in motion any longer? Do you see my problem?
Here’s another one: Take a group of women out on a power walk, have Gerard Butler drop trou immediately in front of them. (Not blocking their progress, mind, because then we’d have to deal with a whole ‘nother set of laws.) Let’s just put him off to the side of the path — stationary, but with a twinkle in his eye as if he’d like to join in on the fun. Let’s have him say, “Well, hello, ladies,” in that charming Irish accent as he reaches for the drawstring of his sweatpants—
Ahem. Can any of you, honestly — honestly — say that those female bodies in motion would remain in motion? (At the very least their trajectory would be altered.)
Objects at rest tend to stay at rest.
Pffft! This part I can disprove with my eyes shut. Picture this: a standard sleepover with four adolescent males; the house smells vaguely of corn chips and sweat, and definitely NOT of shampoo. You lift up such tempting objects as a dirty dish, a video game like…oh, Pokemon. You get a quirked eyebrow in response. At first glance the 1st law seems to apply. But be not deceived.
For now we hear the sound of a doorbell. Our nose is teased with a medley of cooked onion, congealed bovine milk, processed wheat. See where I’m going here? Yup. That pizza’s gone in about 3.14 minutes, and I dare say that would be true even if it weren’t Pi week. 😉
Now, I know what you’re thinking: All this need to reconsider the fundamentals of modern science might have been avoided had our past scientists not been only male and childless. While that might be true, please understand this is a blog of “hope”. We identify problems here. We don’t create them, which is what we would do by turning a debate about scientific principles into the vilification of an entire sex. I happen to like unmarried, childless men. I had one — right up until the time I said “I do” and bore him two children. 😉
Anyway, if you’ve read this far, do you feel like making your contribution to science? Have you seen any evidence in your own life that might rebut or boost Newton’s 1st Law of Motion?
*This quote is lifted from several on-line sites and my daughter’s textbook. However, according to NASA, the official law reads like this: “Every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.” In my examples, the boob, Gerard Butler and the pizza make for compelling forces. I’d like the opportunity to investigate scenario #2 myself, just to be certain, you understand. 😉