Physics is one of the most intriguing areas of the sciences to me. One aspect of it that I really love is what I call “inner physics”. Inner physics to me is the physics that happens internally, often without our notice, but still produces results outside of ourselves.
Hand-Eye coordination is part of what I call inner physics. At first, we have to work hard when catching and throwing a ball or frisbee – we think and calculate consciously. After a while, though, it becomes a natural, almost thoughtless process. It becomes easy and innerly calculated, without the intentional help of our consciousness. If someone tossed me a ball right now, and I caught it, I could not explain the mental process of calculation for how I had caught the ball. “I just caught it,” would be me likely reply. It was like second nature to me.
That in mind, perhaps you can begin to see all the other things I see as inner physics – aka physics calculations we do without being aware of having done them, or having the slightest idea of how to write out the mathematics used for them. Things like managing to walk a straight line or keep from falling over; carrying something without spilling it; giving high fives, scratching a spot in our own head without blinking the hand into the head; hopping; jumping off of something; properly aligning q-tips to clean our ears; not poking ourselves in the face with our toothbrushes; not spilling water when we bring the glass to our mouths for a drink… those sorts of things. I find them all fascinating. Most of them involved such complex physics, that I don’t even know how to write out the equations for the various situations. And yet our brains are accomplishing these tasks by doing these mathematical equations almost automatically.
The one piece of inner physics that never ceases to amaze me, though, is how on earth we manage to sit down on a toilet seat, especially at night. We can not see it, we are not touching it, and yet we somehow land gracefully in just the right spot as we sort of fall backward and downward. Some people struggle to catch a ball that is visible in front of them, yet most everyone can turn ’round and squat perfectly down to a toilet seat. We are mathematical magicians with that stunt, I swear.
I love inner physics. I also enjoy when we have a little blip in our inner physics – like hitting our face with the straw or spoon, instead of it going seamlessly between the lips. I always enjoy that one. 🙂