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We have a model of electricity which says electrons flow from one place to another. We have a model of optics which says that photons go from one place to another. As I understand, there is currently research for a similar model to explain gravity (the hypothetical "graviton").

Is there a similar approach to kinetic energy? That is a theory which is based on small information packages traveling from one atom to another to change it's velocity?

Background: I'm researching material for a hypothetical space drive for aliens in a SciFi story that I'm writing which is based on direct kinetic energy manipulation (DKEM). The idea is that instead of throwing stuff around, they directly manipulate the kinetic energy of the matter that makes up the space ship.

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When you bombard electrons with photons, you are in effect giving them kinetic energy. All particles are "kinetic energy particles". There's no need for an extra kind of particles. A change in kinetic energy corresponds to work being exerted by or on the system. –  Raskolnikov Nov 28 '10 at 13:51
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This is a meaningless question I'm afraid' vote to close. –  Noldorin Nov 28 '10 at 14:13
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closed as not a real question by Noldorin, Marek, Raskolnikov, j.c., David Z Nov 28 '10 at 22:10

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1 Answer

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I think you are confusing forces with energy. Forces are mediated by particles, photons, gravitons, etc. The particles interact with the normal constituents of matter (typically electrons, but also nucleons) and change their energy. Thus a force is "felt" by the particle.

For example: a photon hits a free electron, the electron changes its velocity and potentially its speed and kinetic energy.

In this sense the "small packages" you are looking for are the force carrying particles:

  • photons (electro-magnetic force)
  • gluons (strong force)
  • W/Z particles (weak force)
  • gravitons (gravity)

There are a few more mentioned in the linked article.

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Thanks, that points me in the right direction. –  Aaron Digulla Nov 28 '10 at 14:17
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