Sir Isaac Newton forever remodeled physical science by articulating his three laws of motion, and of universal gravitation. This structure—known as classical mechanics—underlies the basic laws of science. Newton’s many critics considered his “laws” to be mystical notions, yet the current Standard model sounds even more mystical in replacing “force” with “interactions”—although the high-strangeness factor in quantum physics seems to support this. As anyone drawing breath knows, nothing stays the same. Even nothingness is subject to scientific interrogation—Sartre’s ghost debating Hawking. A recent presentation on the endlessly fascinating (and entertaining!) iai TV explores these forces, and why it is anything exists at all.
“The Strangeness of Force,” hosted by David Malone (director and presenter of BBC and Channel 4 documentaries exploring science history and philosophy), gathers Hilary Lawson (post-postmodern metaphysician), Eleanor Knox (philosopher of physics), and Peter Cameron (eminent mathematician, and Fritz Weaver look-alike) for just over 30 minutes of mind-bending debate and discussion. As ever, each session opens with a “pitch,” this one being Lawson’s “Forces do not describe reality.” Knox follows with “Refining our notions of forces does not make old concepts redundant.” Cameron’s “Forces are one of many different descriptions of reality” for me clearly defines the “problem” behind this debate: the entirety of human knowledge is simply a way of talking about existence—bearing witness, if you will. We presently have no way of physically stepping outside of our 3-D perspective. I urge you to watch “The Strangeness of Force,” because these minds charge abstract, even disturbing, ideas with crackling life and enchanting weirdness.