October 25th, 2009 - Trying to Stop

I was listening to my quasi-random iPod shuffling the other day during the crawl to work when it popped up a podcast with Aristotle (well not Aristotle himself, but a guy reading Aristotle, and much too quickly I might add). 
He was talking about physics and defining the terms of states of being; stopped, in motion, changing state, etc.

I like Aristotle, he was one of the major players to consider science and philosophy to be in the same family, and I'm all for that.
This got me thinking. I was struggling to grasp what the Big A was laying down and having a hard time keeping up with the talking guy.
He kept describing things in strictly empirical terms, like "one number cannot be another number" or "white cannot be black."
When he was in the middle of explaining the states of motion, he was using the term "stopped" with an object. The object that is stopped cannot be...  
I began thinking, "When is an object truly stopped...?" 
If it is on the Earth, the Earth is always moving, spinning on it's axis at about 1000 miles per hour, and then the whole earth is orbiting our sun at around 67,000 miles per hour. Our little galaxy is moving along with other galaxies. So the object sitting on the earth isn't really stopped, is it?
What situation would I have to create to really 'stop' something?
If I took it out into space, even deep space, I would have a hard time just putting the object there without introducing some momentum on it, which in a vacuum would cause it to move, unencumbered. 
Even if I could let go of it without introducing any motion into it, I believe that there are still "solar winds" at play in the universe, and also there is the theory that the universe is expanding. 
Does that mean the 'dark matter' if it exists, is expanding too?
Do objects sitting out in space get carried along with this expansion if they were not part of the original 'ejection'?
There's also the phenomenon describing that any object with mass in any proximity to another object with mass affects that object with a gravitational pull, no matter how slight. 
How can I stop my object? Find an empty universe?
Furthermore, throwing all of those physical influences away and hypothetically saying I could physically 'stop' my object, I can't stop time. 
My object is still growing older just sitting in one place. Is this not a 'movement' of a sort, as well? My object is aging. Changing states. Time is moving by it, through it, and around it, but it is also moving through time. It is aging.
To me, it seems like things are not as clear cut as Aristotelean empiricism would like to make them. Or even as clear as how I would like to make them, as I consider myself an empiricist at heart, and I like simple explanations for things. 
Maybe I'm way off base here, and someone can help squelch my lack of knowledge about astrophysics. But I still have to question everything. I can't help it.
How can I stop?

1 comment:

dignature said...

Editor's Note: After re-reading one of my favorite 'physics' books - Stephen Hawking's "The Universe in a Nutshell" (for about the 19th time, some of it is finally filtering through), I realize that this question is not beyond the pale. Up until the period of Einstein, the universe was thought of as an 'ether', and that 'time' was constant everywhere. Al's postulate knocked much of the world on it's head by theorizing that time is not the same between moving bodies throughout the universe (re: everything) leading to the concept of "personal time" and the theory of relativity.
Further, Einstein was knocked on HIS head when Werner Heisenberg postulated with his 'Uncertainty Principle' that "it is impossible to know both the exact position and the exact velocity of an object at the same time," what with your zero-state fluctuations and such. Chaos rules. Well, it doesn't rule, but it doesn't let you slide by without rethinking your math.
- T.