physical law

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physical law (plural physical laws)

  1. A scientific generalization based upon empirical observation that is part of physics, standing in contrast to chemical law, biological law, sociological law, etc.
    • 1986, Harry Prosch, Michael Polanyi: A Critical Exposition:
      The assumption seems to have been made that because mechanisms (and so also organisms) work in accordance with physical and chemical laws, they are wholly explicable as the resultants of the operation of these laws.
    • 2005, Robert Inkpen, Science, Philosophy and Physical Geography:
      No organism can behave in a manner that would break or contradict physical and chemical laws.
    • 2014, Colin Pearson, Conservation of Marine Archaeological Objects:
      The unifying features are the saltwater itself and the fact that the variations are controlled by universal chemical, physical and biological laws.
  2. A universal statement about the operation of nature, based on empirical observations of physical behavior, tested using the scientific method.
    • 1861, The English Cyclopædia: A New Dictionary of Universal Knowledge, page 463:
      the celebrated Northampton Tables agree with Demoivre's hypothesis in their money results, though by no means exhibiting the same physical law of life
    • 1899, Joseph Lee, “Liberty through Legislation”, in The Bay State Monthly, page 439:
      The question is simply which is the lesser burden, subjection to the human laws of health or subjection to the physical laws of disease.
    • 2006, Jane Jensen, Dante's Equation, page 248:
      “What if we've discovered the underlying physical law of life itself, Jill? [] "
    • 2008, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., The Ideas that Made the Modern World, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., page 174:
      He believed that the fundamental physical law of life was motion and that the predominant human impulses were fear and, among those above the poverty level, pride and vanity.
    • 2018, Bernard Dugué, Time, Emergences and Communications:
      Emergence is not connected to the physical laws of molecules, any more than the shape of the chess pieces can explain the rules and the game that is played.
    • 2020, Traci M. Cihon, Mark A. Mattaini, Behavior Science Perspectives on Culture and Community, page 80:
      This is particularly challenging for network analysis since its origins in the 1930 were permeated by explicit intention of modeling social systems by identifying physical laws of social gravitation.
    Synonyms: natural law, law of nature