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MATTER OR

ENERGY
By Ranu
Vikram
Matter and energy are regarded as the
two pillars on which our universe or atleast
Physics is based. However, you found
yourself going dumb, if somebody asks you
which one of the two pillars is longer. Does
other pillar exist apart from these two?
Obviously, not as your physics instructor
never told you about them. Just suffer this
short article, in which I intend to discuss the
basic question.
Concept of energy is meaningless
without the existence of matter. However,
the converse may not be true, as evident
from the following argument.
According to Physics, energy is of two
types namely Kinetic and Potential energies.
Kinetic energy is the energy possessed by a
particle due to the virtue of its motion.
Suppose particles don’t exist, then how can
we think of kinetic energy?
Now, considering potential energy, we
can say that potential energy is the energy
possessed by a system of particles due to
their configuration. Again, in this case the
meaning of energy becomes vague, if we will
remove particle from this picture.
If you will ponder over the argument,
then you will soon come up with a counter
example, i.e., a system made up of photons.
This system consists only of photons, i.e.,
bundles of energy. Aren’t you happy that you
have proved my argument wrong?
If you’re happy, then be ready to catch
up with my new stand. The fallacy with the
system of photons is that, the photons are
particles. Energy exists, because particles
exists are present in this case. Removing
photons from the system will also remove the
energy from the system. So, we can say that
matter has an edge over energy.
Now, let us consider another situation in
which matter does exists but energy doesn’t.
How can this be possible as if matter exists
then configuration of particle either charged
or uncharged will exist, which in turn will give
rise to either electrostatic potential energy or
gravitational energy respectively, depending
upon the nature of particles. Now, we will add
another simplification to the system’s rule
book to get away with the problem. The
change is that ‘No two particles exert any
kind of force on each other’. This change will
remove all types of potential energy from the
system, but still the system can possess
kinetic energy. This can also be removed by
assuming that all particles in the system are
at rest with respect to any other particle in
the system. Now, we have our ideal world in
which no two particles attract or repulse each
other and every particle is at rest with
respect to each other. Doesn’t this appear
like a gloomy corner of a sculpture’s
workshop with statues staring each other with
no motion and feeling?
You should never think that my lovely
ideal world will fall off together because no
binding force exists in this system. In fact,
nothing will happen as ‘no force exists’ and
according to Newton’s first law of motion,
things will remain as they are unless and until
a force is applied to the ‘things’ and if you
don’t like Newton then follow Aristotle as he
had same kind of views regarding objects at
rest.
So, summing up all we can say that
matter can exist without energy, but energy
can’t exist without matter. Hence, matter has
an upper hand over energy. Now, what brings
energy into the game, as world can exist
without energy? I think that the term ‘Force’
will strike your mind like Germany’s
Blitzkrieg, but don’t be impatient as we have
another player waiting for its turn, i.e.,
‘Motion’. You know that, force and motion are
interconnected by Newton’s second law of
motion, but can you point anyone as cause
and the other as effect. Probably, no.
Now, after this curious argument (isn’t
it?), we can say that force originates potential
energy, while motion is the cause of
existence of kinetic energy. Then, how can
we treat potential energy and kinetic energy
as one entity, i.e., energy. We should not
treat them like that simply because they are
interconvertible (aren’t they?). Also according
to work energy theorem only magnitudes of
change in potential and kinetic energy are
equal to each other, not the exact values of
potential and kinetic energy are equal to each
other.
Now, due to mounting confusion, I am
obliged to end this argument suddenly, as if
being checked by Newton’s spirit from talking
nonsense. However, before I am leaving, I
want to mention few questions on which you
should ponder.
1)-Is this argument nonsense or
convincing?
2)-Are potential energy and kinetic energy
the same
thing or they are simply interconvertible
and nothing more?