Law of physics explains natural drivers of wealth inequality

A Duke University professor has proposed an explanation for why the income disparity in America between the rich and poor continues to grow. It is, he says, part of the laws of physics.

“The laws of physics govern how things move, and nothing moves unless it is pushed,” said Adrian Bejan, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Duke University. “Pushing requires power, and power requires fuel, whether it is food that powers the human body or gasoline that powers cars. And the amount of fuel consumed by a nation is directly related to its economic growth. So really, physics and economics are two sides of the same coin.”

The physics law dictating income disparity and a variety of other phenomena is one that Bejan discovered in 1996. The constructal law states that in order to survive, any flowing system must evolve to increase its access to flow. For example, the human vascular system has evolved to provide blood flow access through a few large arteries that branch into many small capillaries. River systems and trees show the same evolution, he says.

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