Damn you Newton!

23 May 2014 08:59

This has been bugging me for days.

Last Wednesday, while taking a shower, I was thinking about my current work in progress Urban Fantasy series. Among a lot of other things, it involves a limited form of telekinesis. As a result of it being fantasy, I break quite a few laws of physics. This isn’t really all that strange. But seeing as it is urban fantasy (i.e. it takes place in "our world"), I try to keep things as realistic as possible. This involves obeying the laws of physics where possible, and having consistent explanations for the existence of "superpowers".

Anyway, as I was taking that shower, I started thinking about Newton’s laws of motion in relation to my work. The first two generally aren’t that much of a problem, but then I considered the third law. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the third law states that all forces exist in pairs. If an object A exerts force on another object B, then B also exerts force on A. This is usually abbreviated as:

Fa = - Fb Or as my high school teachers put it: action = -reaction A good example of this law is recoil. The bullet flies out of the gun, but the gun also moves backward. This principle can also be seen in my first book, Gift of the Destroyer, where the act of creating a burst of air also knocks back the caster. Destroyers tend to brace themselves before doing so.

But how does this work with telekinesis? On the one hand you have a person (the telekinetic) exerting force on an object. According to Newton’s third law, there should be an equal and opposite reactive force acting back on the other object. Except, what is the other object in this case? The telekinetic’s brain? His body? His non-corporeal (and therefore mass-less) mind?� His source of power? The Earth he’s standing on?

To be honest, I’m not sure. In most cases where the power is used, there is no visible effect on the telekinetic, but in one case he relies on Newton’s third law to save himself by slowing himself down by "pushing against the ground", suggesting that the telekinetic can control whether or not the opposite reaction has any effect on him.

Any tips on how to solve this?