Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I was driving home from The Workplace the other day when I started to think about physics. Grant it this isn’t an uncommon thing for me to do, but I started to appreciate the force we have come to ignore and disregard, friction. The fact is that if it weren’t for friction the car that was sending me 70 MPH across The Cove landscape would be in absolutely no forward motion at all. The reason (not the sole reason, but one of many many reasons) a car can travel down (or up, or what-have-you) the road at all is because the coefficient of static friction of rubber in contact with the road is greater than zero. This then got me thinking, “What would our world be like without friction?” I’m pretty sure now it would be non-existent. While gravity would still govern our position on this planet, without a frictional force we’d just be standing in place not moving. Every time we’d try to take a step, we’d go nowhere. It would be like walking on the slipperiest ice ever, but even more slippery. We’d just look like a bunch of cartoon characters running in place going nowhere. Nails wouldn’t work anymore, as friction could no longer hold them in place in wood so you can forget about building anything. Forget about embracing anyone or anything ever again. Seizing anything would be like trying to grab a wet bar soap in the shower, only worse (and not as disgusting). Have you ever tried to climb a giant bar of Irish Spring when you were little? It’s not an easy feat.

You can gather now that literally the world as we know it would have fallen apart without the force of friction. Theoretically it would have never been able to come to be at all, but that’s not near as much fun to think about. Luckily we never have to worry about friction just disappearing since it is not a fundamental force and originates from the electromagnetic forces and exchange forces between atoms. You could argue for a universe without friction if you believed in parallel universes, but this would only be for an infinite parallel universe model that I believe is entirely inaccurate and erroneous, but that’s a-whole-nother driving-home-from-The-Workplace thought.

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