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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Laws of physics and our bodies

  • What to make of the 'God Particle'?


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  • Boy, summer is just whizzing by and I have yet to squeeze into the bikini that graced my body a handful of times the summer of 30 years ago. At this point, I'd actually be delighted to just be able to pull my swimsuit from the late '90s over these hips and live to tell about it.
     
        Now I'm no scientist – not even close – but I did manage to get an "A" in college physics, thanks in huge part to the instructor grading on a curve and some fantastic lab partners. More than a decade later, the specific formulas escape me, but when physics-related categories pop up on "Jeopardy," I manage to amaze myself and my kids by answering at least 80 percent of them correctly. That's still worth an "A," don't you think?
     
        Given my higher than average knowledge of physics (according to my grade), one way to look at this whole weight gain/body bulge thing is that physics have not been kind to my physical appearance over the years. Sure, deep in my heart I know other factors, several of which are (or were) under my control, are primarily to blame, but this theory diffuses some of that responsibility from me onto nature.
     
          Think about it: With all the physics-related laws developed over the last few centuries, surely there are some that can explain why, by the time the majority of us women hit 50, the visible parts of our bodies that manage to escape widening still succumb to sagging, bagging, discoloration and/or mounds of jellylike gibbosity (translation: cellulite).
     
        Newton's Law of Gravity is the obvious place to start. As it explains the attractive force between a pair of masses, it can apply to, say, a person's stomach that was once lean and flat. Like the proverbial apple falling from the tree (which is, in fact, a myth), as the stomach ages and ripens, it, too begins to loosen from its anchor as an unseen force influences it. Unlike the apple, though, it does not simply fall off its anchor and onto the ground (unless helped on with a little liposuction). Instead, the stomach first gets pulled straight out and eventually drops down.
     
        The famous physicist's three laws of motion can also apply here, which basically describe how the motion of physical objects change. The laws state that in order for the motion of an object to change, a force (inertia) must act upon it, and that any time a force acts from one object to another, an equal force acts back. So taken at face value, this means that if a stomach tries its darndest to protrude, a force will act upon it to make this happen.
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        I suppose the opposite could be true as well – when a stomach tries hard to suck itself in and flatten out, a little force called exercise makes it work. These aren't the kinds things we're trying to justify in this space, though.
     
        Those invisible forces have a way of working on body parts that no amount of self discipline can alter. Raise your hands if you have dark circles, bags or crow's feet around your eyes. The way I figure it, something in an unfortunate person's genes attracts the types of forces that bring masses of capillaries to the surface, puff out the under-eye skin and fat, and absorb fine cracks of skin to form feather-like wrinkles framing the eyes.
     
        With the biggest scientific revelation since demoting Pluto to a dwarf planet rocking the world last week, I have to wonder if it could somehow offer yet another physics explanation behind these undesirable phenomena. The Higgs boson, otherwise known as the"God particle," was "preliminarily" discovered in a Switzerland lab. This tiny subatomic particle supposedly is the reason that all matter in the universe has mass, which gives particles inertia. Simply put, this particle slows other particles way down so they don't get out of control. Physicists the world over have said for years that this sort of thing had to exist, but the proof eluded them until now.
     
        Hmm, you mean to tell me if it weren't for this Higgs Boson God particle, I'd currently be moving at a cheetah's pace rather a snail? So the law of energy mass-conservation might work in my favor rather than against me if this thing didn't exist? Jeepers, all that energy I'd been storing for a rainy day could have been spent more wisely had I known it would instead escape from my body.
     
        So what does the scientific community plan to do with this thing? Once discovery is confirmed, it's bound to change all science textbooks, but can't some over-achieving masterminds harness the God particle in and speed it up? Imperfect bodies everywhere would be eternally grateful.
     
        Or maybe not.
     
        This all brings to mind one burning question that's been on my mind for years: Just where does all that fat go when you lose it naturally?
     

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