Science education

Is Energy Non-material?

The most favorite word of the mystics, next to “field,” is “energy.” Both words occur frequently in physics and other sciences, and both are advertised by the mystics to be non-material. I have already shown that fields are as material as atoms, molecules, and billiard balls (see here).

Unlike field, which has every characteristic of a material object, energy is a property of material objects, and is not itself material. It makes as much sense to call energy material or non-material as to call the color or speed of a ball material or non-material. The connection between energy and matter is that only material objects carry energy – and this fact can be verified by having the object interact with another object. In fact, energy is one of the defining characteristics of material objects. That is why a photon, despite being massless, is material because it carries energy (and momentum) like any other material object, and can interact with other material objects.

The favorite equation of modern gurus is E=mc2 because it connects energy – which they advertise as non-material – and mass, which is obviously material. Some gurus, like Gary Zukav, go so far as to turn the equality into identity and say mass is energy. This identity then scientifies the Eastern belief that matter and spirit are the same and any distinction between the two is an illusion!

The equation E=mc2 says that sometimes a certain amount of mass can transform into an equivalent amount of energy carried away by material particles. For example in nuclear fusion, two light nuclei could fuse into a heavy nucleus plus other particles. The sum of the masses of the initial nuclei is more than the sum of the masses of the final nucleus and other particles. The mass difference turns into the kinetic energy of the final nucleus and the particles produced. Even in the matter-antimatter annihilation, it is not just energy that is produced, but two photons which carry the energy equivalent of the masses of the particle and its antiparticle.

Modern gurus’ claim that energy is non-material is as ridiculous as claiming that speed is non-material, or the color of a red ball is non-material. Energy, like speed and color, is a property of material (and only material) objects.

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