Applying Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion to Lawless Rioting


Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) was a brilliant English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author who revolutionized the field of science. One of his most well-known principals was his “Laws of Motion.”

Newton’s first Law of Motion states that an object at rest will stay at rest unless compelled to change by an external force, and an object in motion will maintain a constant velocity unless met with an outside force. In simple terms, an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion. It’s the Law of Inertia.

Americans were going about their daily lives, isolating themselves from the coronavirus. People were at rest. Then they were compelled to change by an external force, the tragic death of George Floyd.

After that external force was applied, rioters and looters took to the streets. More people joined them. The rioting and looting spread to other cities across America and to countries around the world. The inertia of the rioting kept it in motion.

Newton’s second Law of Motion explains how the velocity (speed) of an object changes when an external force is applied, increasing its momentum. Velocity depends on two things, the external force applied and the mass of the object. The greater the force, the greater the velocity. It’s the Law of Force.

Once rioters increased the mass of the object (crowds) and applied greater force (violence), the momentum kept building. Momentum has two variables – its mass and velocity. The more people there were who were rioting, the faster it spread.

Rioting spread from city to city. It wasn’t just the people in those cities who were rioting and looting and burning down businesses, people were bused in from other cities, thus increasing the mass. As more force was applied, the rioting accelerated.

The third Law of Motion states that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. If object A exerts a force on object B, then object B also exerts an equal force on object A. It’s the Law of Action-Reaction.

The clashes between rioters (object A) and police (object B) have played out on our TV newsreels every night. However, for every action of looting and arson, the police have shown great restraint. They broke the law (Newton’s Third Law).

There has been push-back to the rioting, but not of equal force. People who were opposed to the rioters tried to apply force by driving their vehicles into the crowds of demonstrators. But they were met by an overwhelming force.

As the riots continued to have inertia and force, they seemed to gain momentum because they were not being met with an equal and opposite reaction.

How could Sir Isaac Newton have predicted that his laws of Inertia, Force, and Action-Reaction would have such a violent and disastrous impact on society?

How could Newton have known when he published his “Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis” in 1686 that in 2020 we would see his Laws of Motion applied in such a corrupted manner?

Newton’s three Laws of Motion were set in motion by the actions of one man, a police officer in Minneapolis.

Sir Isaac Newton said, “I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.”

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