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Eternal Circle of Time

Electrons circle the nucleus of an atom. Untold trillions of atoms collide together and explode. The universe expands. Electrons race down the copper wires of an electric cable. The sun shines. Leaves digest the sunlight, produce nutrients, live, grow, die, and fall to the ground. The wind bears aloft the leaves, scatters them over earth and sea. The tide moves them, pushes them up into rivers where at last they settle into the mud. Salmon swim upstream; lay their eggs on the muddy bottoms of lakes and rivers. A powerful grizzly bear nuzzles the icy water of a mountain brook. His great paw sweeps into the water and catches a darting salmon. Men come; establish a city on the banks of the stream. They drive the bear off. Their boats coast upon the surface of the sparkling water. Nets plumb the frigid depths, resurface filled with salmon. The men eat the salmon. The salmon are digested, turned into fodder for a thousand other creatures and into the food that builds civilizations. Digested again, these minute particles break down into molecules, and the molecules into atoms. A lone atom floats off in the vast emptiness of space. Electrons circle the atom's nucleus. These are cycles, yes, but wherein lays their ultimate origin? Is there a connection between all that makes up the universe? Is there a plan? Is there some great, single purpose that united us all together through time and space?

The great chain of being returns from beginning to end. One event follows from the previous, on and on, until the top of the chain is reached. While not a popular theory among modern historians and philosophers, the idea of the Great Chain of Being does offer an explanation for the harmonies and interrelationships that exist within the universe. Nothing can occur without a prior cause, and each preceding event is the reason for the following event. This is as true of traditional philosophy as it is of the scientific method. Steam rises out of a pot only because there is water in the pot, and only because that water has been heated to a temperature of two hundred twelve degrees Fahrenheit. Indeed, this process of cause and effect can be carried backwards over and over again - back to a primal cause...the very creation of the universe itself, for it was only the initial creation of the universe that made possible the existence of the water in the pot, and the energy or heat with which to boil it. What is represented here is a hierarchy of events, such as that which comprises the Great Chain of Being, a notion that, according to the historian Arthur Lovejoy was the Conception of the plan and structure of the world which, through the Middle Ages and down to the late eighteenth century...most educated men were to accept without question - the conception of the universe as a "Great Chain of Being," composed of an immense, or...infinite, number of links ranging in hierarchical order from the meagerest kind of existents...through "every possible" grade up to the ens perfectissumum." (Smith, 1993)

But must a chain of events be hierarchical? Must there be a reason behind every action and every event?

According to the most popular current scientific theory, the universe was created through means of a "Big Bang." All the mass that now comprises the universe was compressed into a single object of minute size that suddenly exploded flinging its fragments to the ends of space. This movement to the "ends" of the universe took many ages, but the initial cause of the movement itself - according to science - lay in the physical properties of the original object itself. The primordial object being comprised ultimately of trillions upon trillions of atoms, the individual atoms eventually exerted such an enormous pressure upon one another that the indescribable force of all this energy squeezed into one tiny space caused the entire object to explode with an equally unimaginable force. And from where did all this atomic energy come? It came from the individual electrons whirling around the nucleus of each individual atom. Such is the simple scientific explanation of the Big Bang as first conceived by Albert Einstein. However, such an explanation of the universe's creation presents certain problems for the scientist, namely what was the origin of this tiny speck that contained all of the matter and energy in existence. Of course, creation could be some sort of endless loop, the matter expanding and contracting after the fashion of a rubber band, the matter and energy making possible our own existence somehow always existing, the processes that control the universe having neither beginning nor end. But is there any process that has no beginning? Any process that has no end?

Einstein ultimately gave grudging acceptance to what he called "the necessity for a beginning" and eventually to "the presence of a superior reasoning power." But he never did accept the reality of a personal God.

Why such resistance to the idea of a definite beginning of the universe? It goes right back to that first argument, the cosmological argument: (a) Everything that begins to exist must have a cause; (b) If the universe began to exist, then - the universe must have a cause. You can see the direction in which this argument is flowing -- a direction of discomfort to some physicists. " (Schaefer, 1994)

The electrons that supply the energy to the atom also are the ultimate suppliers of the energy that powers so many of the technological wonders of our modern world: computers, telephones, televisions, radios, etc. Following strict physical laws, they move one after the other along some conductive material, as for example the copper wire out of which most electrical cables are made. It is this flow of electrons that is what we call electricity, and it is made up of the very same electrons that make up every atom in the universe. The forces of attraction and repulsion that send the electrons spinning around the atomic nucleus are also the identical forces of attraction and repulsion that cause them to flow down a copper wire. Electricity too then existed at the dawn of creation, as it was inherent in the atoms that made up the primordial object from which the universe sprang. So also according to modern science must electricity be uncreated, existing forever and ever and always. Such a hypothesis would only be in accord with Sir Isaac Newton's Laws of Action and Reaction:

1. Law of Inertia: A body at rest remains at rest and a body in motion continues to move at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force.

2. A force F. acting on a body gives it an acceleration a which is in the direction of the force and has magnitude inversely proportional to the mass m of the http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/nimg166.gif

3. Whenever a body exerts a force on another body, the latter exerts a force of equal magnitude and opposite direction on the former. This is known as the Weak Law of Action and Reaction.

Wolfram Research)

Clearly, the electrons in the copper wire are acting precisely in the manner prescribed by Newton. Being negatively charged particles, the electrons are naturally repelled by one another, the force of this repulsion being the force that propels each individual electron forward along the copper wire. And Newton's Law of Action and Reaction applies equally well to the individual atoms in the primordial object that was at the heart of the Big Bang - the repulsive force of all those electrons could be contained no longer. One atom thrust against a second, the second against a third, the third against a fourth, and so on, creating a chain reaction that eventually pushed all of them out into the vastness of space. But if each action requires an equal and opposite reaction, then what compressed all those atoms together in the first place? Did they reach the end of a limitless space and begin to push back, the forces expressed by Newton's Law eventually impelling them back together in the form of a ball? But if space is therefore limited, then it is itself some sort of object, an object that of necessity existed outside the miniscule primordial ball of atoms, as the primordial ball of atoms is contained within it.

Such an observation raises interesting questions, questions that might be illustrated through the example of a leaf on a tree branch. Fluttering in the breeze, the green leaf basks in the sun's life-giving rays. The energy contained within the sun's light - those same ever-moving ever-jostling electrons - causes chemical reactions to occur in the tiny living particles that make up the leaf. These reactions are called photosynthesis, and it is photosynthesis that produces the food that the leaf, and indeed the entire tree need to grow and survive. This food is manufactured from various…[continue]

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