In science, nothing is without a reason

In science, nothing is without a reason

The philosopher Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) is often credited with stating the principle of sufficient reason: “Nothing is without a cause. Moreover, it is through philosophy in general that this argument is approached, and philosophers of antiquity and the Middle Ages have repeatedly drawn on it in their discussions What we seem to be less aware of is that this principle is implicitly the basis of many scientific statements. Take the statement that if we roll an unloaded dice, the chances of it falling on one face instead of the other are equipable. Why? Because there are There is no reason It falls more often on one face than the other! The principle of sufficient reason is so ingrained in our brains that if we notice a die always landing on the number 6, we will cry that it is loaded.

Why are the Earth, planets, and stars (almost) spherical? Because it is in 3D space probably There is no reason To choose one direction over another, which results in a ball. And if we notice a deflection, this will indicate the presence of a force or field (electrical, magnetic or gravitational): if the Earth is flattened at the poles, it is because of its rotation, which creates a greater centrifugal force at the equator than at the pole. So there is a reason why it is not spherical. Similarly, the electric or magnetic field around the wire is cylindrical because there is no There is no reason It goes to one side more than the other from the axis specified by the wire.

All our explanations of phenomena are subject to the principle of sufficient reason

Even Newton’s famous second law (the acceleration of an object is proportional to the result of the forces exerted on it) is a direct consequence of the principle of inertia and the principle of sufficient reason rather than an empirical law. The principle of inertia, formulated by Descartes, states that rest or movement at a constant speed is equal. This means that only the difference Velocity must have a reason describing the second law: Force is the cause (or cause) of the change in velocity (acceleration). Even Aristotle spontaneously applied the principle of sufficient reason. For him, absolute comfort was present, and therefore it was speed (the transition from stillness to motion) that required an explanation. It was concluded that the velocity was proportional to the force applied. For Aristotle, the absence of force involves a return to rest while for Newton it involves a return to a constant velocity, because the rest is related to the movement of the observer. This is the great relativity.

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Particle physics is no exception to this observation. In this field, a “totalitarian principle” is sometimes invoked, which states that “whatever does not prohibit (by the principle of preservation) is obligatory.” This idea is often attributed to physicist Murray Gell-Mann, even if the latter spoke instead, In an article published in 1956 in the magazine Il Novo CementoAnd the From the “Principle of Compulsory Strong Interactions”. Some go back to the old law, which stated that whatever is not prohibited by law is permitted. Indeed, in a more fundamental way, this statement only paraphrases the principle of sufficient reason. In fact, if a particular particle interaction or some form of decay is not prohibited by law, then there is no There is no reason It does not happen with a certain probability.

In general, all our explanations of phenomena are subject to the principle of sufficient reason, even if, of course, this principle is not sufficient to explain everything!

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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