How Real-Life Physics Fakes Telekinesis

We all know telekinesis can't be real. As hard as you try, you can't will the remote into your hand from five feet away, at least not in this reality. But still, all kinds of seemingly telekinetic forces operate around us all the time. How do they do that?

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Neil Turok, filling in for MinutePhysics, has an explanation paired with a handy little history lesson for those of us who used to doze off in class. So if you still don't know the answer to that famous question of how magnets work, consider this a quick Sunday primer on the invisible fields that surround you everday. And that you can't—unfortunately—affect with your mind. [YouTube]

DISCUSSION

Ok, great; the field of an electron is a mathematical description of what happens when another electron gets near it. What is the field when no other electron is present? I started asking this question in 1967 when I started as a Physics major at the University of Maryland, College Park. To this day I've never received a satisfactory answer. My teachers all said, more or less: "Just do the math and don't worry about it."