# Towards a Pre-Newtonian Intuitive Physics of Object Collisions

- Ralf Mayrhofer,
*University of Göttingen*
- Michael Waldmann,
*University of Göttingen*

## Abstract

Some researchers have argued that mass perception, causal
ascriptions, and predictions in simple billiard ball interactions can be modeled
as inductive Bayesian inference over a (noisy) Newtonian representation of the
world. However, there are phenomena, such as the asymmetrical ascription of
forces to colliding objects, that are conceptually incompatible with the symmetry
of Newtonian physics. We propose that human inference in physical scenarios
operates over a pre-Newtonian physical representation that is based on impetus
intuitions. Impetus theories assume that object movements are caused by an
internal force, impetus, that is transferred and reflected when objects collide
with each other. Moreover, impetus interactions are inherently asymmetric. We
present a mathematical model that implements impetus theory and show that the
theory is well suited to model perceived causal asymmetry. Moreover, the theory
can also explain phenomena that so far have been presented as unique evidence for
(noisy) Newtonian representations.

Back to Table of Contents