ELI5: As far as we can tell, are the laws of physics arbitrary? "Why" are they exactly as they are? Are they the same throughout our universe?

(I added some YouTube channels in the above comment, in case you missed it)

As always, there is a relevant xkcd to this topic.

Pop science is inaccurate by necessity, as it cannot utilize math to describe the subject matter. As most of physics in very much counter intuitive and beyond our realms of intuitive understanding, it can only accurately described in the language of math.

Everything else remain an attempt to find accesible analogies to very complex phenomena.

As an example, take Genaral Relativity. Pop sci often illustrates the fabric of spacetime as a rubber sheet, deformed by the weight of the heavy objects. This explanation gives a good intuitive understanding of the subject, but it doesn’t describe spacetime accurately in any shape or form. The 2 dimensional rubber sheet is deformed in a third spatial dimension by the weight if the object. In reality, four dimensional spacetime is not deformed in a fifth dimension, but within those four dimensions. Furthermore, general relativistic effects can never be measured locally.

(Not to speak of the fact that this explanation of gravity needs real gravity to pull down the heavy objects, and is thus a circular explanation...)

/r/explainlikeimfive Thread Parent