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Overcoming Your Own Inertia

Posted: January 22, 2016

If you’ve ever had a basic science course, you probably covered Sir Isaac Newton’s “Three Law’s of Motion.” Written in the late 1600’s, the first law states that any object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an outside force is applied to it. 

This idea actually came from some earlier work by the astronomer Galileo, and is also called the “Law of Inertia.” What’s interesting is that the same law can also apply to things that are standing still. So an object that is standing still will remain that way unless also acted on by an outside force. 

Galileo was trying to explain the movement of the cosmos. Newton realized that things as large as planets not only their own gravity possessed gravity (the apple falling), but were also affected by gravity (our orbit around the sun). His second law (Force = Mass x Acceleration) provided the basis for the math calculations that allowed scientists to predict orbits and understand our relationship with the sun. 

Things in motion tend to stay in motion, and things that are standing still, tend to stay standing still. It takes an outside force to cause a change. But these laws can be applied to behavior, too. They can even have a spiritual component. 

Look at it like an object drifting in space. It will retain most of its inertia and keep moving in the same direction. Unless it starts feeling the pull of gravity from a nearby body (planet), it will just keep on going that way until something changes. But if something exerts some gravity, the object will start curving in that direction. The stronger the pull, the greater the change, until finally, it’s on a completely different heading. 

This is how they got the Command Service Module (CSM) to the Moon, after launching it into space with those massive Saturn three-stage rockets. The first stage got them off the launch pad, and the other two stages got them them past Earth’s orbit and gravity, in space and on their way to the Moon. 

Often the pull is our attraction to someone. If the gravity is strong enough, you get married and start a new life together. Jobs and careers are huge contributors too, as are other interests like hobbies. But it can work both ways. Complacency can have an inertia of its own that needs to be overcome. 

Sometimes it takes a jump start to get moving in the direction you need to go in. Like the rocket on the Lunar Module, we need to fire our engines enough to overcome the gravity of the object holding us there, in that case, the Moon. 

Once they got into orbit, they had to link up with the CSM. Then they fired the bigger rockets on the CSM to escape the Moon’s orbit and get started back to Earth. Sometimes we need a CSM of our own, to get us past all of the different pulls around us. 

Don’t forget Newton’s third law too. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. There are consequences to every action. Some are predictable, but some are quite unanticipated, so be careful. Think it through, and then when you’re ready, do your best. 

Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion still apply today. They can work for you, or work against you. I’d rather have them working for us. Whether we need a little push to change course, or just need to get things in motion, overcoming our own inertia can make for an exciting journey!