Everything is a form of energy. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The ancient Greeks assumed existence to be eternal, comprising infinite space; so did Einstein for a time.
Others considered cosmogony. Among them was Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu 2,500 years ago, English theologian Robert Grosseteste in the 13th century, and modern astrophysicists. All propose that the universe emerged from a figurative pinprick of energy which contained within all that the cosmos was ever going to contain. According to this expansive story, energy from an originating singularity began to spread, and in doing so, somehow diversified, both in frequency and capability. The energetic diffusion was into nothingness: spacetime itself being packaged as part of cosmic energy.
From our perch in the cosmos, the farthest we can detect is 46.5 billion light years away. As light speed delimits cosmological distance, and Earth is unlikely to be in the center of the cosmos, our universe may be over 100 billion years old. (This extensive astronomical duration contrasts with the now-conventional cosmogonic fiction of a much more recent origination followed by an instantaneous supraluminal expansion (cosmic inflation).)
Like butter spread thin on toast, as the universe expanded, local energy intensity lessened. After an indeterminate duration, the spatial concentration of energy formed localized patterns from which substance descended. Matter was born; or so it seems.
The History of Energy
Though the term energy derives from the ancient Greek, its modern understanding dates only to the mid-19th century. People had recognized energetic powers about them, such as the crackle of static electricity or the billowing gusts of wind that could fill a sail and propel a boat. Each such exercise of energy was considered in its own realm. There was no overarching idea of energy taking different forms.
In 1797, English physicist Benjamin Thompson showed that a seemingly infinite amount of heat could be generated from a finite amount of material. This demonstration of kinetics demolished the prevailing caloric theory of the time, which considered heat an ethereal fluid that flowed from hot to cold bodies, and that there was a finite amount of caloric heat energy to be had in any object.
Thompson’s work was instrumental in establishing modern thermodynamics, which ushered in the conception of energy as a manifold phenomenon.
The 1st law of thermodynamics is the conservation of energy, which declares energy to be finite: neither able to be created nor destroyed. It is an ironic conclusion considering Thompson’s experiment showed instead energy to be existentially infinite. But incessant experience of material limits leaves an indelible impression.
Nothing comes from nothing. ~ Greek philosopher Parmenides
Following Parmenides, French chemist Antoine Laurent Lavoisier theorized the conservation of mass in 1774; the matter equivalent to the conservation-of-energy law.
The universe does not violate the conservation of energy; rather it lies outside that law’s jurisdiction. ~ Australian astrophysicist Tamara Davis
Conservation laws supposedly apply to the observable universe, which has long been presumed a closed system. That the manifest universe is not a closed system is not generally accepted, as it violates modern science’s most basic tenet of faith: that existence must be entirely empirical.
Moreover, physicists are reluctant to pitch longstanding ‘laws’ which work well in proximity for an unbounded and ultimately unknowable existence; even as modern physics, with its virtual particles created by ghost fields, and paradoxically energetic ground state, indicate that the cosmos, from the quantum scale on up, is merely a simulated venue. For instance, virtual particles have been shown to exist, but quantum physicists still consider ghost fields merely mathematical, even though virtual particles are generated by ghost fields. The very idea of an energetic ground state is oxymoronic. Conceptual inconsistencies in quantum field theory abound.
In 1821, English physicist and chemist Michael Faraday discovered a magnetic field about a wire conducting electrical current. Electricity and magnetism had long been thought distinct forces. In discovering electromagnetism, Faraday showed otherwise. Faraday later demonstrated that magnetism affects light.
Faraday took the first step toward the idea of energy being unified yet exhibiting distinct phenomena. Einstein exponentially extended that idea to all of existence.
Mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing. ~ Albert Einstein, who never said what that “same thing” was
With the advent of quantum theory in the early 20th century, energy has been increasingly treated as a unity with different manifestations. Modern physics now considers classical mechanics as proximate laws within a larger actuality bounded by quantum mechanics and relativity. As physics still retains many unanswered questions, it is clear that modern theories are, at best, incomplete. The bounds of actuality, let alone reality, are beyond the reach of science.
Before traipsing off onto supposedly solid ground, and thereby sussing the matter of matter, let’s note the nature of energy – for energy forms the threads from which are woven the fabric of existence.
Energy is an abstract concept introduced by physicists in order to better understand how Nature operates. Since it is an abstract idea, we cannot form a concrete picture of it in our minds, and we find it very difficult to define it in simple terms. ~ American physicist Carlos Calle
Energy is traditionally defined as the relative ability to put matter to work. As matter is transposable energy, that definition is a tautology.
More formally, in physics, energy is a conserved extensive property of a physical system. Parsing that definition for content leaves an irreducible void.
A physical system is a mathematical construct which states that a specified universe has been chosen for analysis. In other words, a physical system is an abstracted arbitrary region, with any external environment, or its influences, ignored.
In examining existence, physicists exclusively focus on the observable 4 dimensions (4D) and studiously ignore extra dimensions (ED), which evidence insists exists. They do so because ED can only be inferred, as its characteristics are beyond empirical analysis (i.e., the scientific method). There is irony in this, in that energy can only be inferred by its effect on matter. In other words, while energy manifests, it does not inherently exist.
In physics, a property is a quantifiable characteristic. It may be intensive or extensive.
Whereas an intensive property does not depend upon system size or content for its value, the size of the system matters for an extensive property. The value of this additive property depends upon the size of the system under description. An example illustrates.
The mass and volume of a body are extensive properties, as they are the measure of proportion within a system. But hardness is intensive, as it is scale-invariant, in being the ratio of mass / volume.
In that energy is an extensive property, the scope of selected system is crucial to the characterization of energy. Wrongly scope the system considered Nature, as physics does, and you get an inaccurate representation.
Conserved means preserved: in this instance, self-contained. The quantity of energy is taken for granted as never changing within the defined system, which is presumed to be isolated (no possible leakage). Virtual particles and other ED weirdness demonstrate that this critical, axiomatic assumption of 4D containment is false for the observable universe.
From its definition, energy is a vacuity, comprising nothing more than a conceptual construct which physics has ill-defined.
Energy cannot be observed directly. It is only a comparative as measured by its effect on matter. In of itself, energy has no presence. Energy is instead only a relative mathematical reference.
What is energy? An abstraction that appears phenomenal through its productions affecting matter.
Energy is more a ‘scientific’ idea than substance. ~ English chemist and molecular biologist Graham Cairns-Smith
In assuming that the cosmos is a 4D closed system, the classic laws of thermodynamics state that energy may neither be created or destroyed. But the universe is not just 4-dimensional, and there is no empirical way of examining the HD universe in its totality. Hence, there is no way to know whether the cosmos is closed. Further, and most saliently, as energy is nothing, the conception of its conservation is absurd.
For all its spot-on predictions of the furniture in the world, physics is theoretically bereft when it comes to the essence of Nature. The history of physics shows that the science is a fiddling of equations until numbers eek out which match observations. Then physicists rashly assume that their models tell all.
It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about Nature. ~ Danish physicist Niels Bohr
The energy of the mind is the essence of life. ~ Aristotle
There are indications in everyday life that the nature of existence is energetic, beginning with our bodies.
What defines our “physical” power is not muscular, but our level of mental energy. That the body is really an energy gyre rather than an animated slab of meat is rather obvious once you think about it.
You experience the power of subconscious belief, and mind over body, every time you eat. Just knowing that nutrients are going to be delivered gives a sense of renewed energy, well before cells have been replenished. This surge of energy is not a physical product.
A similar but antithetical energy pattern comes to consciousness when it is time to sleep. The mind tires and feels energetically spent. The physical cells that comprise the body are by no means exhausted.
One may intently focus on a task which brings satisfaction for much longer than can be done for something which one has no interest in. Performing a boring or repetitious task requiring scant physical strength can be exhausting, as any assembly-line worker can tell you.
An emotion is a fabrication, yet it can be as keenly felt as any physical perception. In of themselves, emotions may be empowering or draining.
Another example of the power of mental energy comes in comparing health to illness. Illness affects only a tiny fraction of the body’s cells, yet the entire system feels drained.
An energy system underlies the material bodily shell. Primary collation and interface points are called chakras.
Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for a variety of illnesses for over 8,000 years. Poking needles into the feet and hands would make no sense as a medical technique if our bodies were merely matter and not patterned energy gyres which manifest meat. That there is a vitality to living, beyond mere molecules in motion, is a certain fact.