Theorem of Minimum Potential Energy.

The Theorem of Minimum Potential energy is a physics phenomenon that states a system will move into a configuration that minimizes its potential energy.

That means that there is a reason that holding a string in your hands it will always curve downwards rather than upwards. With gravity acting downward, a downward arch minimizes the potential energy. This is useful to know because it allows mathematics to be derived that can predict the outcome of all sorts of engineering and design problems.

I studied the mathematics relating to the Theorem of Minimum Potential Energy in graduate school quite a bit. One of the things that I always thought about was how it represents people and their behaviors. In general, my presumption is that people seek out the course of actions that require minimal energy. When thinking in these terms, people’s behaviors become much more predictable. It explains why people would rather brush others off, rather than explain their positions. It explains why some people blow up when hit with an unexpected problem. It explains why some people will do anything for money.

The part that makes things unpredictable is the fact that people can’t actually measure whether their actions are minimizing the energy needed over their lives. So, they judge it based on different criteria. The young guy looking to hit it big in the stock market is judging that retirement money by 30 years old is minimizing the energy required for his life. However, if he fails at it, loses money, he may alter his criteria in his older age. Finding new ways of measuring what requires “less energy”.