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**These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"**

Science has been
long obsessed with acceleration. Galileo and Newton went down in history for managing to express
that simple concept of acceleration.
After them Physics assumed that an object is defined by its position,
its velocity (i.e., the rate at which its position changes) and its
acceleration (i.e., the rate at which its velocity changes). The question is:
why stop there? Why don't we need the
"rate an object changes its acceleration" and so forth? Position
is a space coordinate. Velocity is the first derivative with respect to time of
a space coordinate. Acceleration is the second derivative with respect to time
of a space coordinate. Why do we only need two orders of derivative to identify
an object, and not three or four or twenty-one? Because the main
force we have to deal with is gravity, and it only causes acceleration. We
don't know any force that causes a change in acceleration, therefore we are not
interested in higher orders of derivatives.
To be precise, forces are defined as things that cause acceleration, and
only acceleration (as in Newton's famous equation
"F=ma"). We don't even have a word for things that would cause a
third derivative with respect to time of a space coordinate. As a matter of
fact, Newton explained acceleration by introducing
gravity. In a sense Newton found more
than just a law of Physics, he explained a millenary obsession: the reason
mankind had been so interested in acceleration is that there is a force called
gravity that drives the whole world. If gravity did not exist, we would
probably never have bothered to study acceleration. Car manufacturers would
just tell customers how long it takes for their car to reach such and such a speed.
Acceleration would not even have a name. Back to the beginning of the chapter "The New Physics" | Back to the index of all chapters |