What is energy?

The late Richard Feyman, a well respected physicist said ” It is important to realize that in physics today, we have no knowledge of what energy is” Energy is certainly a mystery but it doesn’t help thinking of it as light, heat, food, mechanical, sound, gravitational, electrical, chemical, biological and nuclear energies, many with their own units. In fact Feynman also said ” For those who want some proof that physicists are human, the proof is in the idiocy of all the different units which they use for measuring energy”. If we are to understand energy better it is better if we look at how it behaves. This I have tried to do in my earlier blogs and this blog tries to sum up what we know of energy.

The terms that scientists use to describe energy in the raw are confusing and often misunderstood. I have singled out the terms radiant energy, mass energy, binding energy, thermal energy, kinetic energy and potential energy for discussion below before I give my own thoughts and views on energy.

Radiant energy is described as the energy of electromagnetic waves. It is seen as massless photon particle energies or as waves that are emitted into space at light speed by vibrating particulate matter. They travel through space and are absorbed by often highly distant particulate matter at light speed. These radiant photons can have wide ranging energies that are linked to their frequency as in the spectrum shown. We now also speak of gravitational waves as though they are different but they are also just photon energies coming from space. The only difference is that their source is highly distant violent energy processes out there in space.

Although science attributes the source of radiant photon energies to moving electrons and protons, it rarely speaks of such energies passing across the vast spaces within particle structures where electron and proton motions abound. Instead it teaches that a particle charge property is responsible for particle attractions and repulsions. If it does mention photons they are virtual.

Mass energy: Einstein said “If a body gives off the energy L in the form of radiation its mass diminishes by L/v2”. His v was a reference to the speed of light. He was clearly telling us that mass is energy and that radiant energy given off is a loss of mass energy. It follows that radiant energy taken in by a structure will increase its mass energy.

The mass energy of a structure is the total of the fragments of energy that make for its particles plus the photon energies acting between those particles. That said, it puzzles me as to how science continues to speak of photons as massless when it accepts that photon radiations emitted from a structure diminish the mass energy of that structure. The mass of a photon may be so tiny as to seem like nothing but the numbers of interacting photons are such that they are a considerable part of a structures mass energy.

Binding energy is a confusing term that scientists use. It leads you to think of it as that part of a structure’s energy keeping it together, but that is not the case. Binding energy is not a part of a structure’s energy. It is the energy that is released from particle structures when they combine in more efficient ways or alternatively it is the energy you have to input into a structure to break it apart. Either way binding energy is a reference to a structural release or gain in mass energy.

Thermal energy is a reference to radiant energy, particularly in the infra red heat frequency range, that is being exchanged within a structure , issuing from a structure or being input into a structure.

The particle arrangements of structures vary considerably and so their desires for thermal energies, their ability to accommodate added thermal energies and their ability to transmit thermal energies from particle to particle within their structure can be so different. Look up and compare the specific heat and thermal conductivity for several different material structures and you will see that some structures can better adjust to energy changes.

When added thermal energies are substantial, solids can become more fluid liquids, liquids even more fluid gases and gases can throw off and hold at bay electrons so that they become ionised plasma. Such noticeable changes to particle structures are just the way in which particles can pro actively accommodate substantial added energies.

At the beach on a hot summer day both sand and sea are absorbing the sun’s radiant energies. The liquid water has a more loose particle structure than the sand. It can accept thermal photon energies similar to those accepted by the sand yet unlike the sand still maintain a low average photon energy in and around its structures as measured by temperature. The sand has a much higher thermal conductivity than the sea water which means it is better at moving on its heat into the earth. The particles of the sea structures emit a lot more of their absorbed energies back into the atmosphere than those in the sand structures. For all these reasons our feet feel hotter on the sand than they do in the sea yet not as hot as they do on the asphalt promenade.

The conduction of thermal energy through a solid object is viewed as temperature driven with energy flowing from hot to cold but that is not how it is at the particle level. Particles exchanging higher thermal energies move further apart and emit higher energies. Colder parts are less resistant to the energy emissions. The energy flow we see as temperature driven conduction is more of a spreading or dissipation of thermal energies. We might view the sun as being all energy output and no energy input, but its particle desires for energy maintain its shape and the desires of its core particles deliver and control its mass energy releasing fusion process. Similarly the gravity desires of earth’s core particles contribute to the heat at its centre.

Kinetic energy is defined as the work needed to accelerate a body of a given mass from rest to a velocity. However science thinking goes further and regards that accelerating energy as being added to and forming part of the energy of the moving body. It then thinks that when such a moving body is decelerated in some interaction with another body it gives up that gained motion energy. Kinetic energy calculations clearly work but the thinking that adds it to the energy of the structure is wrong. How can we possibly know it is added to the structure? Any experiments we do have to involve structure interactions. In what form is it added? Some saw it as increased mass energy but this is not current thinking

Potential Energy is a reference to the desire of mass energy for change which for some reason cannot be fulfilled. Particles held at a height above the earth, like water in a dam have a desire for earth energy emissions. Many chemicals will move to more mass energy efficient structures if allowed to do so. Petrol has potential in its mass energy but needs a spark to initiate that change. A battery has a desire in its chemicals for mass energy change but needs an electrical circuit to make for a photon linked particle mass energy flow of electrons between its terminals. A spring when compressed or extended has added mass energy in its structure that it will release if given the opportunity. Potential energy is not an energy store. Mass energy is the store and potential energy is a reference to its desire for change in its position or content.

My view of energy

I see everything as composed of energy. I see neutron, proton and electron particles as living energy nodes, each with a different purpose. By absorbing, processing and emitting photon radiant energies they are able to interact with one another. They come together as structures in which particle energy desires are more efficiently met. They evolved into what we call life form structures because they were better at satisfying their particle energy desires. In using energy we make use of its desires. So what are its energy desires?

The desires of structural energies

Structural energy is composed of particles that have come together in an efficient photon energy gathering, processing and distribution arrangement. Structures comprise of internal particle energies and the photon energies they exchange. Together they form a mass energy store- the mass of the particle energies plus the mass of the photon exchange energies. Mass energy stores are forever mildly changing mildly changing as they continually exchange photon energies with other structures.

A structure will more substantially change its mass energy if the opportunity arises for it to be more efficient in its energy processing. That change of mass energy may be a release of photons to the environment or a taking in of photons from the surround environment. Chemical changes, changes between solids, liquids and gases, nuclear changes and changes like those of a spring; they are all mass energy structure changes. In many situations we make use of mass energy changes as with fuels, batteries and nuclear power but no more so than in our human bodies.

Living structures like plants make mass energy changes. They take particle energies from the earth and the air and photon energies from the sun so as to grow their efficient mass energy structures. Animal and human life structures use the mass energies of plants and other animals. Our digestive system and respiratory system take in and process mass energies so as to release photon energies that we then store as mass energies in our particle based body cells. We store those mass energies for use by our body particles energy gathering activities.

I have previously explained that we evolved to satisfy particle energy desires in a sometimes hostile environment. Our modern desires have strayed from this basic purpose and only time will show how particles determine our future evolution.

The desires of interacting structure energies

Structures interact with one another via photon energies. Sometimes they come together and emerge as more efficient mass energies. Most often their interacting energy desires bring them close to but not too close to other structures. They seek an energy efficient state in their environment. Structures continuously use their “on board” mass energies to position themselves as best suits them. Gravity is simply the movement generated by structures toward other structures so as to seek a more efficient energy exchanging position.

Kinetic energies are the use of “on board” mass energies by the particles of structures to distance themselves from high unwanted photon energy exchanges. They deliver what we see as the forces that create motions. Exchange energies can rise rapidly to very high levels when structures approach one another at speed.

Our calculation of kinetic energy 1/2mv2 says energy rises as per the square of the approach or parting velocities but it is not correct for speeds nearing light speed as the interacting light speed photon mass energies have more and more effect. The 1/2v in the 1/2mv2 represents the average velocity in what is thought to be a linear acceleration or deceleration and this is just not so. There is no 1/2 in the E = mc2 calculation of mass energy efficiency changes because particles absorb, emit and I suspect have internal energies that move at light speed c. They are not accelerated.

Does kinetic energy add to structure mass energy? During a structure collision the “on board” mass energies of the structures are being used to decelerate the approach and then accelerate a departure. Much energy is released to the environment. As part of this process particles in structures are pushed closer together and so there is some increase in mass energy but it is quickly emitted when the structures are free of this pressured energy stage. This energy is not a retained motion energy for use in some future interaction with another structure.

The desires of interacting particle energies

Particle desires are somewhat different to structure desires as different particles have different roles in structures. The much tinier, more mobile electron particles are about collecting and filtering the energies of their surround and delivering suitable energies to the nuclear particles. They use energies to maintain a distance from the nuclear protons they energy supply and other electrons performing the same role in the interests of energy efficiency.

When electrons absorb high photon energies we see electrons jumping away from the nucleus and see high photon energies emitted into the environment. How and why does that happen? I suggest the electron and a proton immediately exchange a high volume of low energy photons. This has much more effect on the electron (about a 2000th the mass energy of a proton or neutron) and rapidly positions it away from the nucleus where it releases most of its absorbed high photon energy. Having released its high energy the electron rapidly returns toward the proton(s) to resume normal energy exchanges with it. The rapidity of movement of an electron away from and back toward the nucleus is related to the energy it absorbs and then emits. It is why Planck was able to relate photon energy to frequency.

If there is a more controlling particle in structures it is neutrons. They can create protons and electrons or reverse that change as befits their energy desires. You have to think that in the latter change the dispatch of a positron energy particle out of the nucleus so as to annihilate with a remote electron and produce gamma ray photon energies is a deliberate act. Just another sign that particle energies are pro active and not reactive.

Semi conductor technology and electricity are about particle energy interactions. they involve the movement of electron particles but as resisted by proton desires for their energies or by the interaction of electron movement associated magnetic field photons. We measure electrical energy using E – V (voltage) times I (current) times t (time). Lets look at this in terms of electrons passing through the resistive element of say a toaster. The current I is the rate at which electron mass energies pass any point in a second so I x t (in seconds) is the mass energy of electrons passing into and out of the toaster element in time t.. Now V = I x R (ohms law) so voltage is a measure of the photon pushes that deliver the mass flow rate when opposed by the resistance (R) to flow. Electrical energy is a push times the total mass energy movement it delivers.

Thoughts on photon energies

Photon energies are common to all of the three forms of energy desires I list. We should not picture them as passing outward from or inward to particles in straight lines. The theory of charge is one in which a test charge measuring the influence of another charge finds it to be distance related. It then assumes an all direction radiating energy field. In reality the test charge and the under test charge become aware of one another and start interacting via photon energy exchanges.

Particles are never still because of their interactions with photon energies. Their desires for photon energies mean photon flows to them are all curving, highly curving in the case of low energy photons as we saw when looking at magnetism. High energy starlight has been shown to curve passing our sun. We should also think of photon energies as interacting with other photon energies, moving in flow paths following other photons or alongside other photons as in cohered energy flows.

Einstein’s paper on special relativity made two postulates. The first he called the principle of relativity. It was that the laws of physics are the same in all inertial frames of reference and the second that the speed of light, in any inertial frame of reference, as propagated into empty space has a definite velocity c, independent of the state of motion of the emitting body.

Understand that an inertial frame of reference is one that has steady state motion and postulate one means a body in high speed steady motion has no added energy over a one we see as having no motion. After all from the point of view of the supposed high speed body it is at rest and the supposed stationary body has high speed motion. The concept of motion energy is wrong but works as a mathematical manipulation.

Postulate 2 is often quoted as the speed of light is common everywhere but Einstein did not say that. My view is that particles make every effort to take in photons at light speed and emit them at light speed relative to their motion and that photons use their “on board” energies to adjust their speeds to photon flows. Consequently our measures of photon flows on earth show them to move at light speed. Perhaps the most revealing example of photons exchanging energies to adjust speed is when they come from space bodies moving at high speed relative to earth. Analysis of the spectrums from such bodies show familiar energy frequency patterns but red shifted (energy loss) or blue shifted (energy gain).

Here at the end of my blogs on energy, my hope is they have set you thinking and that at the very least you now see particle structures as living energies in control of their actions rather than as inanimate objects that are pushed about. Perhaps you will also see that the teaching and understanding of science doesn’t have to be so mathematical. The majority of students won’t have careers in science or engineering and even those who do may only rarely use its mathematics.

Regards, Albert Simpson.

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