Psychology often suggests that flying dreams indicate positive feelings. The dreamer feels good or confident or at ease with their current conditions. I have had many flying dreams in my life. Sometimes I fly like Superman. Often it is a gentle flight, laid out like Superman, but my arms are at my side or just float freely with my body. Quite often I levitate with direction. I sit, my legs crossed and I just rise up and move where I wish to go, remaining seated in the lotus position the entire time. My question, however, is not so much about the psychological or mental implications of why we are flying in our dreams. My question is, why is it flight that we employ and not some other super power?
I had a flying dream the other night, and when I woke up I began to ponder on this question. Why was it flight? Why haven’t I dreamt about teleporting to some other place, or having x-ray vision, or having super strength? Moreover, why do most people have flying dreams? Why don’t we often hear about x-ray power dreams or some other power dreams?
In physics there are four fundamental forces: weak nuclear force, strong nuclear force, electromagnetic force, and gravitation.
The weak nuclear force is a force associated with the decay of a particle. We often call this radiation. In modern physics, the weak nuclear force and electromagnetic force have been combined, as they share some commonalities. It was once thought that the weak nuclear force had no distance limit, though it has been shown that it does have a range, though it is very small, and this range causes it to appear much like a very weak electromagnetic force. Regardless, being radioactive isn’t something we would commonly come in contact with. It really cannot do anything for us as full scale individual human beings.
The strong nuclear force is the strongest of the four forces. It is the force that holds protons to neutrons to create the nucleus of an atom. It is also the force that holds quarks together to form protons and neutrons. That is, you need this force to create protons and neutrons, and you need the force used on the protons and neutrons to create atoms. Again, this is a force that we do not come in common contact with. Well, let me rephrase that. Without it, you would not be you, as your atoms wouldn’t even exist. But you, personally, as a full scale individual human being, are never aware of it, and having some control over it would not advance your daily activities, unless you wanted to be like Doctor Manhattan and rip things apart to their constituent particles. But other than destroying things, how would that help you?
The electromagnetic force is very straightforward. It is electricity, and it is magnetism. If you remember your seventh grade science class, you can make electricity by spinning magnets past each other, called a generator, or you can create magnetism by running electricity around a metal bar, called an electromagnet. It is a very common force, and one that we do have daily personal experience with, at least in modern times. In our ancient past, we didn’t have a clue. All we knew was that sometimes lightening came from the sky, sometimes little rocks stuck together, and sometimes if you rubbed the cat’s fur just right a tiny lightening bolt would jump out of your finger. It might make a cool, destructive super power, but once again, it isn’t going to be really helpful in daily life. What good would it do to have things stick to you uncontrollably, or to have sparks shoot out of you?
Gravitation, however, is one of the fundamental forces that we all have daily experience with. Even millennia ago our ancestors recognized that they were bound by gravity, even if they did not recognize it as a force. What a wonderful thing it would be to overcome that force. Heck, it is really the only force you are aware of. Overcoming your only real obstacle would be a great thing.
This was the conclusion of my pondering. Gravitation is the only fundamental force that humans have a regular relationship with. Even our ancient pre-human ancestors would have recognized their relationship with gravity, while having no clue about the other natural forces. Your cat or dog recognizes gravity, but could not begin to conceive of electromagnetism much less any nuclear forces. We could not have imagined flinging electricity to solve a problem. We could not have imagined breaking a barrier apart into its basic atoms in order to remove the obstacle, or breaking apart your own atoms and transporting them somewhere else and then recombining them.
But we could imagine flying over the plain to get to the valley, or flying over the mountains to get to the other side. Of all the fundamental forces gravity is the only one that presented itself to us as pre-humans, or even as full humans with some basic understanding of the universe. It is the only force that we knowingly deal with on a daily basis. And that is why we fly.