Friday, July 6, 2007

Why Doesn’t Science Recognize Friction?

Friction would seem to be a fairly simple fact of everyday life. Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about it (I avoid using this source unless it is totally objective, in which case there isn’t a bunch of backdoor sniping putting in negative information).
Friction is the force that opposes the relative motion or tendency toward such motion of two surfaces in contact. Friction between solid objects and fluids (gases or liquids) is called drag. In fluid dynamics, drag (sometimes called resistance) is the force that resists the movement of a solid object through a fluid (a liquid or gas). Drag is made up of friction forces, which act in a direction parallel to the object's surface, plus pressure forces, which act in a direction perpendicular to the object's surface.
In short, when we’re dealing with a solid with respect to a liquid or gas, friction slows the solid down. If we want to propel a ship through water, a plane through the atmosphere, we’re going to have to use energy, a current force, to overcome the drag caused by the friction between the sold and the liquid or gas.
Pretty simple, pretty straight forward, and not too much question about the outcome of friction. So, we’d think science would deal with friction when it came to the Earth and the oceans that cover it and the atmosphere that encases it.
You think?
Newton knew what friction was. After all, he had his planets moving in straight lines except for gravity. But Newton’s planets needed a source for their motion and Newton, one of the most devout collectors of different versions of the Bible, knew the source of the force that moved the planets in a straight line but for gravity. The source of the force was God, pure and simple, no questions need be asked.
Because God was the source of the fundamental forces, forces such as gravity, then God was also the source of the force that kept the planets in their orbits once gravity had caused their straight-line motion to be curved into circular orbits. Newton didn’t have to face the very obvious question, did gravity produce friction, cause drag, tend to make the planets slow down, simply because Newton’s planets were kept in constant motion. As to the rotation of the planets, Newton wasn’t much concerned with that little detail. A God that could cause the planets to careen around in the solar system was a God that could easily set the planets a spinning.
In reality, though, anything that could cause the planets to move from a straight-line path to a circular path did so by producing friction by definition simply because the only thing that could affect the motion of the solid through whatever it was moving through is drag.
In fact, the only person who was really concerned about friction was Galileo. Galileo was obsessed with proving that Copernicus was correct. To do so, he sought ways to show that the Earth was rotating on its axis. If he could demonstrate this, then it would show that the vision of the sun going around the Earth we see every day would be the result of the Earth rotating rather than the sun moving.
He spent a lot of time showing that the tides were the result of the Earth’s rotation. This, it would seem, is fairly obvious. While Galileo didn’t have the knowledge we have today of ocean currents, those currents are certainly caused by the action of the rotating Earth. For Galileo, the tides were caused by the water building up away from the direction in which the Earth was turning until they reached a height that could not be supported against the gravitational pull of the Earth (yes, Galileo was familiar with gravity before Newton, so familiar, he measured it).
When the building up of the tides reached its highest point, the weight of the water then pushed the ocean down on that side, causing the water level to rise at the other side of the ocean. Because the tides were repetitive, Galileo instinctively knew that some sort of force had to be driving the process. Back before Newton, people actually believed physical phenomena controlled these sorts of things, not magical mathematical formulas. Because the only force that could continuously keep the tides in motion was the rotation of the Earth, it was the rotation of the Earth that was causing the tides.
Because The Church was the source of all authority in Italy, Galileo’s “proof” of Copernicus using the tides didn’t gain much traction. The much more open England was attempting the same end using parallax, the measurement of a star at the opposite sides of the Earth’s orbit, if it had an orbit, so England wasn’t very interested in Galileo’s tidal theories either.
Thus, they sort of languished. When Newton’s gravity as a property of came along, he used the tides as an example of the effect of the moon’s gravity on the Earth and it was bought hook line and sinker. Later in the 18th century, when Laplace was replacing God as the mover of the solar system with his equally mystical swirling mass of gas, he set about demonstrating mathematically the effect of the moon’s gravity on various volumes of water. After all, if it’s mathematical, then it’s got to be right.
What would be right, of course, would be for scientists to sit down and produce a table that shows the movements of the moon predicting the tides. This they cannot do, so science makes such silly statements as "the long-known correlation of the tides with the movement of the moon." The heck with long-known correlations. Let’s see tables showing the motion of the moon predicting the tides. I have a two volume set on my bookshelf written by a scientist named Newton (no relation to Sir Isaac) in which he attempts to use Einstein’s laws of relativity to do just that. Alas, after hundreds of pages of incomprehensible equations, he admits failure, but holds out hope that further perfection of the theory will result in success – sounds like Sir Isaac saying, my math didn’t work, but more exact measurements of the moon will bring reality into accord with my theory.
The idea that the oceans or the atmosphere for that matter produced friction with the surface of the Earth was fried with Laplace’s swirling mass of gas fantasy. This picture of the past had a universe, in which the only force was gravity, taking the condensing gas that had to have been the source of the matter that made up the solar system, and starting that gas to swirl. Last time I checked, gravity is a straight-line force while swirling results from a circular force, but no matter, a straight-line force somehow got this gas that had to have been there a swirling and once it was swirling, the sun and all the planets and the moons and some other junk to be named later condensed.
What was the proof for this ad hoc explanation for the solar system? Primarily, the solar system was in motion, there was no God to put it or keep it in motion, therefore, the only logical explanation was condensation out of a swirling mass of gas. To keep the solar system moving, science reached back to Galileo, who had rolled balls down inclined planes and measured their motion as they arced into space. He concluded that what was moving the balls was something called momentum gained from the trip down the inclined plane. He decided that, but for the friction of the air through which they passed, they would travel forever. What about gravity? Galileo said, gravity does not produce friction. How did he know that? Because, if he removed the air, the balls would travel forever.
Tell that one to course correction teams or anyone attempting to keep a satellite in orbit. Oh, they’ll tell you that the satellites lose altitude because of stray molecules of atmosphere they encounter in their orbits. Let me repeat that loud and clear. SATELLITES LOSE SPEED BECAUSE THEY BUMP INTO MOLECULES OF ATMOSPHERE.
Laplace used Newton’s Celestial Mechanics and Galileo’s frictionless space to come up with an ever-moving solar system propelled by momentum, a sort of perpetual motion machine that science is always telling us can’t exist. This was all well and good so long as everyone’s attention was focused on the orbiting billiard balls called planets. However, when attention started to focus, as it did in the 20th century, on the rotation of the planets, primarily the rotation of the Earth, it produced some big trouble.
As an aside, by this time science had determined how much momentum the solar system obtained from the swirling mass of gas. Did it measure swirling masses of gas and determine the force they impart to their parts? No, that’s a little too inexact. Science determined the age of the Earth first, using the time estimated for Darwin’s species evolution as a guide, and then once it knew the age of the Earth, it could take it’s mass, produced by Newton’s unproven theory of gravity, and compute the amount of force it would take to propel that mass through frictionless space for the required period of time. Any way to check the math? Why check something that’s absolutely correct? Like determining the amount of mass in a planet, which can never be checked, science has computed the amount of momentum which has to be present to experience the conditions we are experiencing today. It’s the scientific way!
I think it’s pretty clear today that space isn’t frictionless, but since we don’t experience frictionless space as a part of our lives, science can maintain the fantasy. However, when it comes to the surface of the Earth, it’s hard to swallow that the oceans and the atmosphere operate as science says they operate, with no friction between the surface of the Earth.
All that we, the great unwashed, have to do is point out that air at the equator is moving at about 1,000 mph, air at the poles is moving at about 0 mph (theoretically, there’s so much weather from the clashing of the upper polar bound masses with the lower equatorial bound masses that it’s a maelstrom). At ground level, the air is moving at the speed of the ground, otherwise, we’d be blown over. The speed of the ground between the equator and the poles varies between 1,000mph and 0 mph. Now that’s math that can’t be denied because it’s not based on any assumptions.
The only way the lower moving masses of atmosphere traveling back toward the equator could continually increase speed is if they were interacting with the surface of the Earth. If they were interacting with the surface of the Earth, then the drag of the Earth was imparting motion to the atmosphere. By definition, the atmosphere is causing friction with the surface of the Earth.
If the atmosphere is causing friction, then it is slowing the Earth down. However, it isn’t slowing the Earth down. Therefore, the Earth has a current force causing it to rotate. Five billion year old momentum isn’t going to cut the mustard.
Science openly admits that five billion year old momentum isn’t going to cut the mustard. So what does it conclude?
Since the Earth is still rotating, there is no friction between the Earth and it’s atmosphere (or its oceans).
With one stroke, the entire field of meteorology is rendered dumb, spouting things like high and low pressure areas to explain the movement of the atmosphere. When the movement of the atmosphere causes enough friction to destroy a city such as New Orleans, it wasn’t the movement of the atmosphere, it was a hurricane, which, I guess, is something else.
Go outside on a windy day and see how much friction the atmosphere is causing with your body. Then wonder how science can profess such ignorance when all it has to do is face the real questions of reality, what is the current force that is causing the planets to orbit and rotate?
Afterthought: I just finished watching a special on the 54th Sidney to Hobart yacht race that ended in catastrophe when weather got out of control. It seems the polar winds switched direction to match the waves, causing them to increase from a normal 50' to an astounding 100'. Now here's an example of the frictionless atmosphere whipping water into a frenzy.
Don't think so.


SteveK said...

"By definition, the atmosphere is causing friction with the surface of the Earth. If the atmosphere is causing friction, then it is slowing the Earth down. However, it isn’t slowing the Earth down."

I don't get it. Science readily admits that:

1) The rotation of the earth is slowing down
2) Friction from tides and atmosphere contribute to the slowing

See one article here and another here

Peter Bros said...

The length of time it takes the Earth, at the present, to rotate once is 86,400.002 seconds, Steve, compared to 86,400 seconds back in 1820. The rotation has slowed roughly by 2 milliseconds since 1820. That's about .001 second every century. Exactly where’s the friction?

SteveK said...

I'm just saying they admit to the friction, which is counter to your title. If your point is to say they don't understand what's going on, but pretend to understand, then perhaps you are right. But that's not what you seem to be saying in this post.

Peter Bros said...

Point taken, Steve.