Directed Energy

The world changes around us and we change the world. The amount of work done measures the magnitude of a change: changing a heavier object's position takes more work than changing a lighter one. Equivalently, we could say it takes a larger transfer of energy.

Humans have a limited amount of stored energy to direct work. Essential to any organism persisting is maintaining the body by spending energy. The body utilizes electrochemical energy to repair cells, build organs, respire, transport material around the body, and so on. Without energy the organism would wither and die. Stored energy is also transferred outward, changing the body's relationship to the environment in order to continue to survive.

In the International System of Units, the joule is the unit of energy. The joule is a derived unit, it is expressed in terms of the base units. are \( kg * m^2 / {s^{2}} \), kilograms times meters squared divided by seconds squared. Let's drill down deeper into how each of those base units are defined:

Notice how these definitions attempt to remove the role of an observer entirely. We reify certain values as "fundamental constants of the universe," selling them as truly independent aspects of the world. However:

Everything said is said by an observer to an observer who could be him/herself.

The scientific concept of seconds, meters, kilograms and joules, all are innately tied to the machines that we build to measure for the benefit of ourselves. They do not belong to the external independent world. These scientific notions are useful as they enable us to build better tools and make better decisions for ourselves.

As organisms we persist in time by directing work is a very specific way: through metabolism. We take in electrochemical energy and different kinds of materials, transforming the former to place the latter in very precise positions, precise relationships. At every moment we are directing work in order to persist in time. This type of work is special as we must do it to survive and be human. In fact, I believe it special enough that we should have a specific word to differentiate the scientific concept of work, which abstracts the direction work is performed in, with human-directed work.

Luckily the word for human-directed work already exists: labor.

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Subject Dependent Science