The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Gravity: Only A Theory

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 12, 2009

Going through my email inbox today, I got a very interesting message from a fellow skeptic. It was a forwarded story from physicist Ellery Schempp about an article he wrote called “Gravity is only a theory”, which appeared on a Christian apologetics website. The silly thing is that the entire thing was meant as a spoof of intelligent design creationists and their bogus “evolution is only a theory” arguments, yet apparently there are some who actually took Schempp seriously! These whackos most often are those who espouse anti-gravity physics or free-energy physics. Wow, it takes all kinds…

LOL

In any case, I cannot do the story justice by making any more comments about it, so I have decided to share it with you in its entirety. Enjoy! :D

============================================
GRAVITY: ONLY A THEORY–ANNOTATED by Ellery Schempp

I wrote my “critique of gravity” as a spoof on the arguments used by creationists and proponents of “intelligent design” in their attacks on evolution and the efforts to put “disclaimer labels” in biology textbooks that “evolution is only a theory”. It was intended as a parody of the creationists, using all the best techniques of half-truths, non-sequiturs, logical fallacies, over-simplification, misleading statements, authoritative assertion, biased words, and general absurdity that I learned from them. To my surprise, some people didn’t get the joke; others wondered what was really true. One wrote me a lengthy email, ending: “If you would like me to refute any of the other points made in the article, I will happily do so but I believe the discussion above is enough to set the record straight.” That anyone would not get the joke is a sad commentary on the state of science knowledge or our sense of humor or both! I mean, if you tie in gravity to obesity, Saturn’s rings, moral ‘decline’, and universal health care, and you don’t see the fun, what’s to say?

Even a question and answer forum responded to a question:
http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/2005-03/1110592847.As.r.html

Wolfgang Pauli made many seminal contributions to chemistry and physics and is often quoted to the effect that something is so laughable that it is “not even wrong”. There are many variations of this quote, but I take as authoritative from the original German: “Das its night nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch!” “That is not only not right, it is not even wrong.”

So I offer explanations for the parts that come under the heading: A little knowledge can lead you to ‘Intelligent Design’.

All physics textbooks should include this warning label:

“This textbook contains material on Gravity. Universal Gravity is a
theory, not a fact, regarding the natural law of attraction. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”

The Universal Theory of Gravity is often taught in schools as a fact,
when in fact it is not even a good theory.

First of all, no one has measured gravity for every atom and every star. It is simply a religious belief that it is “universal”. There are notions, ideas, speculations, thoughts, wonderments, etc. Is it a “fact” that the present king of Germany is bald? Or that the Bible or the Qu’ran is always true? We learn that some things seem to be true for our present day, and we live accordingly, recognizing that new information and understanding might emerge in the future.

We do make assumptions. No physicist jumps out of bed thinking, “Gee, gravity was well-established yesterday, but I wonder if it is still true this morning.” Scientists do consider that the Universe is orderly, and our hard-won understandings are not subject to random supra natural interventions. Every atom and every star is the same as regards gravity, in accord with all current observations. Prayer has never changed the laws of the Universe. The burden of proof lies with those who think otherwise.

Secondly, school textbooks routinely make false statements. For example, “the moon goes around the earth.” If the theory of gravity were true, it would show that the sun’s gravitational force on the moon is much stronger than the earth’s gravitational force on the moon, so the moon would go around the sun. Anybody can look up at night and see the obvious gaps in gravity theory. First of all, let me assure you that the moon actually does go around the sun! It is absolutely true that the gravitational force exerted by the sun on the moon is greater than the gravitational force exerted by earth on the moon. Something wrong here? Well, if the moon didn’t go around the sun, while the earth does, then the moon would fall behind. Where else could the moon go as the earth moves in its orbit? The moon does this in consort with earth. The earth-moon system goes around the sun, so the moon does go around the sun. Seen from above the plane of the orbit, the moon makes a curly path close to the earth.

I thought this was a fun example of how one can be correct in stating
a scientific fact and be totally misleading as to what it means.

A little history here: In biblical times, it was imagined that the sun and heavens revolved around the earth; this was found to be wrong in the 16th and 17th centuries and replaced by the heliocentric understanding of the earth’s rotation on its axis (days) and revolution around the sun (years).

Anyone can look up the numbers for the mass of earth, sun, moon, and confirm that Newton’s formula for the gravitational force shows that the sun’s force on the moon is greater than the earth’s force on the moon.(1)

Something was left out. Namely, there are also laws of motion.(2) Some people naively assume that gravity explains how things move. Not so. There are laws for motion, which were discovered by Galileo, Newton, and others, and it wasn’t trivial. Aristotle got it wrong, as did many ancient thinkers. Nobody in biblical/koranic times figured it out.

Without going into a one-semester course in the physics of moving bodies, here is a simplified explanation.

The distance of the earth from the sun is 93,000,000 miles, on average-let’s say 100 million miles as close enough.(3) The moon is about 250,000 miles from earth nowadays. This is ¼ million miles.

So the moon-to-sun distance varies ±¼ million miles out of 100 million
miles, a variation of one part in 400 or about 0.25%.

So to explain this apparent “paradox”, the moon’s path is actually a
wiggly line on the overall circle (actually an ellipse of low eccentricity) of earth’s path around the sun. Maybe ripples on the earth’s line is a better description, because the ‘ripples’ are only 1/400 of the earth-sun distance.

One can get a picture of this on this wonderful website:
http://www.math.dartmouth.edu/~dlittle/java/SpiroGraph/ (4)

My point here is to show how the moon actually does go around the sun. It goes around the sun at an average distance of 93 million miles,
but it’s path wiggles a bit. ± 1/400, overall extreme 1/200 = 465,000
miles. That is, the moon’s path around the sun wiggles about twice the
average earth-moon distance. (3,4,5)

Summary: the moon goes around the sun in a nearly, but not quite
circular path, in a path that has ripples, as described above. The earth’s path also has tiny ripples. The original assertion was misleading and false. There is no “gap” in gravity theory. (This was meant as a poke in the ribs to creationists who ad nauseam insist on “gaps in transitional forms”. In the geological record, there are, of course, some gaps and a great many transitional forms demonstrating continuity. But, as one creationist said, “well if you have two fossils, and now you offer a transitional one, then now you have two gaps”!)

The existence of tides is often taken as a proof of gravity, but this is logically flawed. Because if the moon’s “gravity” were responsible for a bulge underneath it, then how can anyone explain a high tide on the opposite side of the earth at the same time? Anyone can observe that there are two-not just one-high tides every day. It is far more likely that tides were given us by an Intelligent Creator long ago and they have been with us ever since. In any case, two high tides falsifies gravity. The gravitational force(1) depends upon the mass of each object and upon the distance between the objects. The closer they are to each other, the more strongly they attract. In the case of the moon and the earth, the moon pulls the ocean water on the nearer side of the earth more strongly than it pulls the rest of the earth, so the water forms a bulge. On the far side of the earth, the water experiences the least pull because it is farthest from the moon. The rest of the earth is pulled away from the far-side water, leaving a bulge of water opposite to the moon, though this bulge is not quite as large as the first one.(6) The moon holds these bulges (more or less) in place while the earth rotates beneath them. The net effect is the tides we experience at the seashore. By the way, there are also small land tides-these are about a centimeter.

A very complete explanation of the tides is presented here.(7)
http://www.coops.nos.noaa.gov/restles3.html

Here again, my point was to show that simple assertions can be totally
wrong to the unwary.

This goes back to science education and children. Doesn’t anybody living near the sea ask, why are there two high tides a day? Every kid should ask, “How does it happen that leaves come out on trees every spring?” Shouldn’t every educated human know that television waves, radio waves, cell-phone transmissions, light that our eyes perceive, X-rays, etc., are all part of the electromagnetic spectrum? There are complexities, to be sure, but shouldn’t every educated human know that there are only three fundamental forces in the Universe-gravity, electromagnetic, nuclear.(8) Creationists (mis)-use this ignorance all the time to promote a Bible-based view. Their ignorance is profound, but they win popular polls because of gaps in their understanding.

There are numerous other flaws. For example, astronomers, who seem to have a fetish for gravity, tell us that the moon rotates on its axis
but at the same time it always presents the same face to the earth.
This is patently absurd. Another false paradox. The moon does always
present the same face to the earth, and before rockets, nobody had
ever seen the back side of the moon. The moon revolves around the
earth once every 28.3 days. The moon also rotates on its axis the same. As it changes its position around the earth, it has to rotate a
little every day in order to keep the same face toward earth. You can
prove this to yourself by walking around a tree and seeing what you
have to do to always face the trunk.(9)

Moreover, if gravity were working on the early earth, then earth would
have been bombarded out of existence by falling asteroids, meteors,
comets, and other space junk. Well, early earth was formed by the
coalescing of lots of matter orbiting the sun-via gravity-to form a proto-earth, which, once large enough, began to attract more stuff, and thus the earth grew at the expense of other chunks of orbiting stuff. Many of these collisions were indeed violent, breaking things apart, but then gravity brought them back again. The same was true for other planets. Eventually our region of the solar system was swept mostly free of these little bits, leaving earth alone. However, one consequence of these bombardments was the moon. A major collision fairly late in proto-earth’s history resulted in a chunk spinning off (1/80th the mass of earth). Other products of this collision were eventually recaptured by earth or the moon-hence the many craters on the moon and some on earth.(10)

Furthermore, gravity theory suggests that the planets have been moving in orderly orbits for millions and millions of years, which wholly
contradicts the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Since everything in the Universe tends to disorder according to the 2nd Law, orderly orbits
are impossible. It is frequently stated by creationists that the Second Law means that “everything in the Universe tends to disorder”. This statement is vaguely correct, but of little relevance to the formation of the solar system and evolution of species. It comes from the Theory of Thermodynamics, which creationist IDers seem to love, but do not understand. It is informative that they pick and choose which parts of science they accept. A valid alternative statement of the Second Law is that “heat flows from a hot region spontaneously to a cold region, but the converse does not occur”. Stated this way, it is far less impressive. The whole notion of asserting the Second Law in connection with the planetary orbits meets Pauli’s test: it is not even wrong, i.e., too absurd to waste time on.

This cannot be resolved by pointing to the huge outpouring of energy
from the sun. In fact, it is known that the flux of photons from the sun and the “solar wind” actually tends to push earth away. The energy received from the sun shows that the earth is not a “closed system” to which the 2nd law would apply. This is a true statement. However, the force of photons and high energy particles from the sun is very small compared to gravity.

There are numerous alternative theories that should be taught on an
equal basis. For example, the observed behavior of the earth revolving around the sun can be perfectly explained if the sun has a net positive charge and the planets have a net negative charge, since opposite charges attract and the force is an inverse-square law, exactly as the increasingly discredited Theory of Gravity. Physics and chemistry texts emphasize that this is the explanation for electrons going around the nucleus, so if it works for atoms, why not for the solar system? The answer is simple: scientific orthodoxy. At first blush, this would seem to be viable-the law of attraction between oppositely charged particles is identical to the gravitation attraction formula(1), except for the value of the constant and the values assigned to electrical charges. However, this would require a large imbalance of electrons between the sun and the planets, and the electromagnetic force prevents sustaining such an imbalance. Moreover, if all the planets and their moons had a negative charge (as
required to be attracted to the sun), then they would repel each other! We would not have a moon!

The mention of “scientific orthodoxy” is just a bone for creationists.
Copernicus, Kepler(11), Galileo, Newton, and others are honored today
for having ideas and evidence that have withstood all critiques over centuries of time, with added insights from, e.g., Einstein. A rational, evidence-based approach to the world cannot be equated to a faith-based view of orthodoxy.

While micro-gravity is observed when, for example, dropping an egg on
the floor, this does not prove that macro-gravity exists. Microgravity
only makes stuff on earth fall. If there is macrogravity, why don’t the sun, the moon, and the planets all fall down and hit the earth? Heavenly bodies do not fall, obviously, because there is no macrogravity. Some say that planetary orbits are proof of gravity. According to gravitationalists, gravity applies in a straight line between different objects; gravity does not make things spin in circles. But the planets do move in circles, and then they say such orbits prove macro-gravity. This is mere circular reasoning.

Moreover, if gravity were a complete theory, it would show a full range of transitional forms. No one has ever found the missing links in gravity; instead it is presented as fact, with no adequate explanation of its origins. Gravity has not been shown to be irreducibly complex, which undermines the claims for a universal theory. There is no such thing as micro- or macro-gravity. Faced with the evidence that dogs have been bred from the Asiatic wolf to produce dachshunds and Saint Bernards and the evidence that bacteria evolve to become drug-resistant, creationists finally agreed that ‘micro-evolution’ occurs. They steadfastly maintain that “macro-evolution is a fiction”, that God created ‘kinds’, although they are unable to define what a ‘kind’ is. No biologist ever uses micro/macroevolution, and the dichotomy is a specious invention of biblical literalists.

Gravity does not alone explain circular orbits(2). There are also the laws of motion, as discovered by Galileo, Newton, and others, and these, combined with a ‘central force’ produce a variety of curvilinear paths, one of which is a closed ellipse. Creationists often argue that geology is circular reasoning-”we know the age of rocks from the fossils found in them; we know the age of fossils from the rock strata”. This displays ignorance of the geological column and the way dates are determined, but I couldn’t resist the pun.

Hmm, a transitional form/missing link/’irreducible complexity’ in gravity in order to make it a ‘complete’ theory? It is interesting that these “tests” are applied to evolution, but not to the Theory of Quantum Mechanics nor to the Germ Theory of Disease.

The US Patent Office has never issued a patent for anti-gravity. Why
is this? According to natural law and homeopathy, everything exists in opposites: good-evil; grace-sin; positive charges-negative charges; north poles-south poles; good vibes-bad vibes; etc. We know there are anti-evolutionists, so why not anti-gravitationalists? It is clearly a matter of the scientific establishment elite protecting their own. Anti-gravity papers are routinely rejected from peer-reviewed journals, and scientists who propose anti-gravity quickly lose their funding. Universal gravity theory is just a way to keep the grant money flowing. “Natural law” is an invention of certain religionists with a black-white perspective. Does everything exist in opposites? A wild-assed assertion. Actually, I have no idea what the patent office did in the 19th Century, but they did decide not to issue patents for perpetual motion machines. The patent office was constantly bombarded with perpetual motion devices based on magnets, spinning this and that, and, of course, none of them work. Conspiracy theorists have been sleepless ever since.

There seems an amusing connection between the anti-evolutionists and the anti-gravitationalists. The Patent Office is pretty good overall,
occasionally accepts silly things, but never, so far as I can determine, issued a patent for an anti-gravity device. The sheer number of sites brought up by Google under “anti-gravity” gives one to take a very deep breath. Nonsense tends to proliferate.(12)

Even Isaac Newton, said to be the discoverer of gravity, knew there were problems with the theory. He claims to have invented the idea early in his life, but he knew that no mathematician of his day would approve his theory, so he invented a whole new branch of mathematics, called fluxions, just to “prove” his theory. This became calculus, a deeply flawed branch having to do with so-called “infinitesimals” which have never been observed. Then when Einstein invented a new theory of gravity, he, too, used an obscure bit of mathematics called tensors. It seems that every time there is a theory of gravity, it is mixed up with fringe mathematics. Newton, by the way, was far from a secular scientist, and the bulk of his writings is actually on theology and Christianity. His dabbling in gravity, alchemy, and calculus was a mere sideline, perhaps an aberration best left forgotten in describing his career and faith in a Creator. It is true that Newton wrote extensively on theology. It is true that Newton and
Leibniz co-invented the powerful branch of math, now called calculus, and that Newton needed calculus to show that the earth, as a large sphere, acts as if all its mass is concentrated in the center from the point of view of attracting the moon. Calculus and tensors are mainstream mathematics today, taught in high schools and colleges. It is possible that even the Discovery Institute has heard of them.

Both Newton and Leibniz made valuable contributions to the invention of calculus, and I am not going to weigh in on the issue. Suffice it to say, that modern calculus takes about equally from the symbolism invented by each man.(13)

The statement that “infinitesimals never observed” is a poke at creationists who reiterate that “evolution” of a dinosaur to a bird has never been observed. It would be almost impossible to design a modern jet airplane without using calculus and ‘infinitesimals’, and nobody has every ‘seen’ an electron. Yet, we infer their existence on the basis of a thousand pieces of evidence.

To make matters worse, proponents of gravity theory hypothesize about mysterious things called gravitons and gravity waves. These have never been observed, and when some accounts of detecting gravity waves were published, the physicists involved had to quickly retract them.

Every account of anti-gravity and gravity waves quickly turns to laughter. This is not a theory suitable for children. And even children can see how ridiculous it is to imagine that people in Australia are upside down with respect to us, as gravity theory would have it. If this is an example of the predictive power of the theory of gravity, we can see that at the core there is no foundation. It is true that physicists have reasons to expect that gravity waves exist and that the gravitational force is carried by a particle called a graviton, just as the electro-magnetic force is carried by photons.

However, gravity is by far the weakest of the three forces (nuclear, EM, gravity).(8) The only reason that gravity appears strong is because there are large chunks of matter in our Universe. Finding gravity waves has been extremely difficult; true, some early accounts were withdrawn; gravity waves are still being actively searched for to confirm the theory, and this search is entirely respectable science.

Gravity totally fails to explain why Saturn has rings and Jupiter does not. It utterly fails to account for obesity. In fact, what it does “explain” is far out-weighed by what it does not explain.

I am rather fond of this: obesity…outweighed. Of course, gravity does not explain why people like ice cream, either–it was never intended to.

When the planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, he relied on “gravitational calculations”. But Tombaugh was a Unitarian, a liberal religious group that supports the Theory of Gravity. The modern-day Unitarian-Universalists continue to rely on liberal notions and dismiss ideas of anti-gravity as heretical. Tombaugh never even attempted to justify his “gravitational calculations” on the basis of Scripture, and he went on to be a founding member of the liberal Unitarian Fellowship of Las Cruces, New Mexico. One of the beauties of mathematics is that there is no such thing as Christian math, liberal math, Middle Eastern math. Anybody who does it correctly will get the same answer. Hence, it is totally irrelevant what Tombaugh’s religious views were.

It is safe to say that without the Theory of Gravity, there would be no talk about a “Big Bang”, and important limitations in such sports as basketball would be lifted. This would greatly benefit the games and enhance revenue as is proper in a faith-based, free-enterprise society. This is just plain silly.

The theory of gravity violates common sense in many ways. Adherents have a hard time explaining, for instance, why airplanes do not fall. Since anti-gravity is rejected by the scientific establishment, they resort to lots of hand-waving. The theory, if taken seriously, implies that the default position for all airplanes is on the ground. While this is obviously true for Northwest airplanes (relying on “A Wing and a Prayer”), it appears that Jet Blue and Southwest have a superior theory that effectively harnesses forces that overcome so-called gravity. Of course, there is an atmosphere and aerodynamic forces(2,8,14) at work that provide lift to airplanes. The rest of it is a deliberate poke at Northwest airlines, my least-favorite. I sent this paragraph to Northwest Customer Concerns, and they replied: Case Number 1141878; <> Makes me wonder.

Doesn’t anyone ask, “how do airplanes stay up in the air despite gravity?”

It is unlikely that the Law of Gravity will be repealed given the present geo-political climate, but there is no need to teach unfounded theories in the public schools. There is, indeed, evidence that the Theory of Gravity is having a grave effect on morality. Activist judges and left-leaning teachers often use the phrase “what goes up must come down” as a way of describing gravity, and relativists have been quick to apply this to moral standards and common decency. It is an absurdity to imagine that a natural law arising from careful observation can be ‘repealed’-this is a play on words. Twisting the idea to tweak the conservatives about judges and morality is just for fun.

It is not even clear why we need a theory of gravity—there is not a
single mention in the Bible, and the patriotic founding fathers never referred to it. This has a little seriousness about it. It is worth remembering that when the Bible was written, there wasn’t the slightest clue about gravity. Nobody should take a text written 2000 years ago as incorporating much wisdom, especially about scientific matters. Newton’s law of gravity was published in 1639, so it was known at the time of the founding fathers. It seemed to explain the solar system, and I imagine they were content with that.

The idea that humans could observe, think, test and reject hypotheses, learn, and thus develop an understanding of how the world works is a very important one. It was neither priests nor scripture that revealed such understandings. It is a joyous example of the human mind. The idea of gravity is a human invention.

Finally, the mere name “Universal Theory of Gravity” or “Theory of Universal Gravity” (the secularists like to use confusing language) has a distinctly socialist ring to it. The core idea of “to each according to his weight, from each according to his mass” is communist. There is no reason that gravity should apply to the just and the unjust equally, and the saved should have relief from such “universalism.” If we have Universal Gravity now, then Universal health care will be sure to follow. It is this kind of Universalism that saps a nation’s moral fiber. Just imagine. The observed behavior of the universe, codified in a ‘law’ that helps us understand how things work-and this is supposed to have moral consequences?

Does the Theory of Evolution sap our moral fiber? Some of us think that being good to our fellow human beings and causing no harm to our planet is a sign of moral evolution.

Overall, The Theory of Universal Gravity is just not an attractive theory. It is based on borderline evidence, has many serious gaps in what it claims to explain, is clearly wrong in important respects, and has social and moral deficiencies. If taught in the public schools, by mis-directed “educators”, it has to be balanced with alternative, more attractive theories with genuine gravamen and spiritual gravitas. Not an “attractive” theory, eh?

Gravamen and gravitas.(10)

[Notes]
(1) “Every object in the universe attracts every other object with a
force directed along the line of centers for the two objects that is
proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional
to the square of the separation between the two objects.”

F = G*m1m2/R2

where:
F equals the gravitational force between two objects;
m1 is the mass of the first object;
m2 is the mass of the second object;
R is the distance between the objects;
G is the universal constant of gravitation = 6.6726 10-11 Nm2/kg2.
Anyone can look up the numbers for the mass of earth, sun, moon, and confirm that Newton’s formula for the gravitational force shows that the sun’s force on the moon is greater than the earth’s force on the moon.

(This is a simple form of the equation and is only applicable to point
sources. Usually it is expressed as a vector equation.)

(2) Conservation of Momentum, Conservation of Angular Momentum,
Conservation of Kinetic Energy–all come with caveats–a little basic
physics is helpful.

(3) I can do this in kilometers, and nitpickers may have other
objections, but humor me.

(4) Choose Radius1 = 150, Radius2 = 18, Position=10. Choose “pause”
after 1 cycle. There should be about 13 moon ripples in one earth-sun
cycle.

This is a pictorial representation, and interested readers can do
refinements. It is interesting to choose radius2 = 19. Then the loops are not closed, corresponding to the fact that lunar cycles are not commensurate with earth’s solar cycle, and hence, lunar calendars
inevitably get out of synchronization with seasons.

I am grateful to Alan MacRoberts, Senior Editor, Sky and Telescope
Magazine, for pointing out to me that a representation of the cusps in
the moon’s orbit must always be convex outward, always concave toward the sun.

Thanks also to Dr. David A. Kornreich at Humboldt State University
Department of Physics for giving me the spirograph website
http://www.humboldt.edu/~phyx/faculty/kornreich.html

(5) Observant readers might ask, if the earth-moon center of mass
system is constant in its path around the sun (ignoring perturbations
from Jupiter, et al), then doesn’t the earth wiggle a little in its
path? The answer is yes, the ripple in the earth’s path is similar to
that from above, but even smaller. The center of mass in the
earth-moon system is about 1000 miles under our feet (when the moon is overhead), or about ¾ of the way from earth’s center.

(6) High and low tides often have a time delay from when the moon is
overhead. For example, it takes 2-4 hours to fill/empty San Francisco
Bay through the Golden Gate. Cf. high tide on the Pacific side of the
peninsula vs. San Jose.

(7) I am grateful to Paul Whitford posting on a Yahoo forum for this
link and further comment.

(8) Ignoring the “weak interaction” and the Casimir force for the
cognescenti. Apologies to those who know details of the electro-weak
and the Casimir force. There are also, for example, ‘forces’ associated with changing the axis of rotation of a gyroscope. See (2). This is not a physics 101 course.

(9) By the way, this has almost nothing to do with the Theory of
Gravity (although the gravitational attraction between earth and moon
produced this situation-the moon has a tidal bulge toward the earth,
and this, over a billion or so years, slowed the moon’s rotation to
what it is today.) More at http://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/nineplanets/nineplanets/luna.html

(10). IDers have a particular dislike for randomness, because they
wish to think that everything is directed by some supra-natural entity
(they actually mean the usual God, but pretend to accept other
god-like types). Exactly how stars and planets coalesce from a
circulating cloud of matter is an on-going area of investigation, but it is clear that accidents resulted in some chunks becoming large enough to perturb the system and thus accumulated at the expense of
smaller chunks. This is pretty close to a random series of events.

The dislike for randomness is curious. In fact, every individual is a product of at least quasi-random events. Who we meet and have children with. And from basic facts of sexual reproduction itself, every ovum has a slightly different DNA arising from meiosis, and likewise every sperm. Granted that some parts of the divided-in-two chromosomes carry genetic information from the parent, but it is random which ones happen to combine. There is increasing evidence for a degree of randomness as to the chemical environment in the womb, which appears to have influence on the degrees of femaleness and maleness in the offspring. There is, thus, a large number of random events that is part of the heritage of every individual. (Unless, of course, one takes the view that each egg and sperm were individually directed by God. Nobody in biology would accept this, but as a matter of faith, it is unprovable.) Over the long course of history, there has been quasi-randomness in which individuals get wiped out by natural disasters, from impacting asteroids to which succumb to disease. Chance has always played a role in life and always will.

(11). See, for example, http://zebu.uoregon.edu/textbook/planets.html;
http://www.thespacesite.com/space/history/dawn.php; http://home.cvc.org/science/kepler.htm; for a totally nutsy view http://www.davidicke.net/medicalarchives/nutrition/cosmiclaw.html
“The incoming electromagnetic energy is centripetal, generated by the
movement of planets, solar systems and galaxies. The outgoing
centrifugal energy however, is caused by Earth’s rotation on its axis,
being strongest on the tropics and the weakest on the poles… The
incoming energies are stronger in the polar regions and weaker in the
tropical region.”

(12). Hmm, if anti-gravity devices exist, why can’t I just float up to
my bedroom? Oh, I forgot, there is a cabal to suppress them. Okay.
Why do informed people accept evolution? There is a cabal to suppress the truth. OK. I am encouraged to believe that there is a similar cabal preventing cars from achieving 1000 miles per gallon using
magnetic energy.

(13). http://www.andrews.edu/~calkins/math/biograph/bioleib.htm; http://www1.umn.edu/ships/9-1/calculus.htm.

(14). Aerodynamic forces are fundamentally electromagnetic, but most
easily understood using conservation laws.

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29 Responses to “Gravity: Only A Theory”

  1. kindly let me know that in E=mc2 (famous eqs given by Einstein) whether c2 (c square) stands only for denoting some numerical value in the equation or there is some evidence of a speed equal to the square of speed of light?

  2. Thank you very much Mattusmaximus for your kind response. It means c2 is a conversion factor only. It has no other function. How this conversion factor has been derived? How does c2 differ from v2 of ½mv2 ?

  3. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said

    I have written following two papers which may lead to the realization for a higher theory of everything:

    (i) Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator,
    (1st Int. Conf. on Revival of Traditional Yoga, Lonavla Yoga Institute, Lonavla, January, 2006)
    (ii) In Scientific Terminology, Source of Gravitational Wave is God
    (2nd World Congress on Vedic Science, BHU, Varanasi, Feb 2007)
    I have presented these two papers at the two different International Conferences. I am now submitting some views for being considered for Unified Field Theory

    From Scriptures: (Prem Patra by His Holiness Huzur Maharaj)
    The Current which manifested in the beginning of the creation is the Current of Sabda (Sound) and of Chaitanya (Consciousness). From whom that Current issued forth is known as Soami (Supreme Being). This Current, by turning back can merge again in the Holy Feet of Supreme Being. The entire creation manifested from this current and is sustained with its energy and when the Current of the Holy Feet is withdrawn, the creation ceases to exist.This Current of the Holy Feet is the Reservoir of all energy, tastes and pleasures, knowledge, skill, shapes, forces and light etc. etc. and of the entire creation, is also the Creator of all of them.

    From Science:
    Gravitation Force is the cause of manifestation of the creation (birth of planets, stars), its sustenance and when it is withdrawn towards centre or source the entire creation ceases to exist. Photons have originated from gravitons. In black holes photons merge into gravitons. In Black Holes, Gravitational Force is so high that it does not allow even light to escape. What does it mean then? It simply means that the gravitational force at black-holes attracts light towards it with much greater velocity than the speed of light. In fact, all forces including electromagnetic force, material force (strong and weak nuclear force) all merge into gravitational force in black-holes and becomes one force there and when the creational process starts again from a Black-Hole all the forces appear (manifest) again and descends downwards to create billions of stars, planets, satellite, asteroids and various life forms.

    Hence it can be assumed that the Current of Chaitanya (Consciousness) and Gravitational Wave are the two names of the same Supreme Essence (Seed) which has brought forth the entire creation.

    All cosmological researches should be conducted keeping in view of the following philosophical facts:
    It has been stated in Bible (John I-1) “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,”
    Mohammedans hold that God uttered ‘Kun’ (i.e. ‘Came into being’) and the creation came into being (Holy Quran, Sur. Bakr (II.117).
    In Chhandogya Upanishad it is written “Tadaikshat bahu syam prajayeyeti” (VI-2-iii) i.e. “It thought (desired) Would that I were many! Let me procreate myself!” The Aitareya Upanishad says,”Sa ikshat ‘lokannusrija’ iti (I-1-i) i.e. “He bethought himself (desired) – ‘Let me create worlds’, etc. etc.
    It is written in Chapter VII of Srimad Bhagavadgita : Sri Bhagwan said, “Arjun, now listen how with the mind attached to Me and practicing Yoga with absolute dependence on Me, you will know Me in entirety and without any shadow of doubt” (1). I shall unfold to you in its entirety this wisdom alongwith the Knowledge of the qualified aspect of God, having known which nothing else remains yet to be known in this world (2). Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, reason and also ego; these constitute My nature eightfold divided. This indeed is My lower (material) nature : the other than this, by which the whole universe is sustained, know it to be My higher nature in the form of Jiva, O Arjuna. (4-5). Arjuna, know that all beings have evolved from this twofold Prakriti, and that I am the source of the entire creation, and into Me again it disappears.(6)
    The Radhasoami Religion also tells that, the ‘Word’ mentioned above is in fact Current of Sound or Current of Consciousness or Prime Current of Spirituality which was issued forth from its Source, or Creator or God. This Current has later on produced light and other forces. The scientists are discussing these days about dark energy which constitute about 96% of the entire universe which is not known to us. Only 4% part of the universe is known to us by all scientific means. In fact this 96% invisible portion of the universe is the vast expanse of spirituality which can be designated as field of gravitational waves in scientific terms. Visible portion of the universe (4%) consists of consciousness (gravitational force), mental force (electromagnetic waves) and material force (strong and weak nuclear force).
    Body = Nuclear Force (weak as well as strong)
    Mind = Electromagnetic Force.
    Consciousness = Gravitation Force.
    According to Radhasoami Religion the whole Universe can be sub-divided into three grand divisions viz.
    1. Region of Pure Spirituality
    2. Region of Subtle Maya
    3. Region of Gross Maya
    Nuclear forces dominate Region of Gross Maya (Gross Material Region), Electro-magnetic forces dominate Region of Subtle Maya (Subtle Material Region) and Gravitational Force dominates Pure Spiritual Region.
    This is the only Truth which can be verified scientifically and can be termed as ‘higher theory for everything’. This also supports the statement of Sir Sahabji Maharaj that ‘the goal of science – Truth; the goal of philosophy – Ultimate Reality; and the goal of religion – God’ are the three names of same supreme essence.
    Many things are common between Current of Consciousness and Gravitational Wave.
    1. Current of consciousness can not be seen by any means and gravitational wave can also not be seen.
    2. Current of consciousness is the weakest force on earth. Its strength goes on increasing on higher regions. Gravitational force is also very weak on earth and strong on Sun and even more stronger on black holes.
    3 Tendency of both current of consciousness and gravitational waves are towards their source or centre.
    4. Current of consciousness and gravitational force are both regarded as the creater of all the celestial and terrestrial bodies of the whole universe. They are also sustainer of these and when they turn back towards their source or centre the whole universe will collapse.
    Hence it can be assumed that the source of current of consciousness and gravitational wave is the same i.e. God or ultimate creator.
    This theory is based on scientific deduction. In scientific terms it can be said that the ‘gravitons’ are the elementaryparticle which was issued forth in the beginning of the creation accompanying with sound ‘Radha’
    .

    • mattusmaximus said

      Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

      I have written following two papers which may lead to the realization for a higher theory of everything:

      Mr. Satsangi, if you really believe that your “theory” has any kind of merit, then by all means submit it to a qualified, peer-reviewed physics journal for possible publication. That is how modern science is done, not by posting walls of text to blogs on the Internet.

      By the way, one question for you – how does one go about testing your “theory”?

  4. watcat said

    Hi this blog is great I will be recommending it to friends.

  5. wonker said

    Interesting blog, I’ll try and spread the word.

  6. [...] Stephen T. Wilson created an interesting post today on Gravity: Only A TheoryHere’s a short outlineGoing through my email inbox today, I got a very interesting message from a fellow skeptic. [...]

  7. matt said

    This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  8. wheatdogg said

    As a physics instructor, I figured no one could possibly question the validity of either Newton’s or Einstein’s theories of gravitation. I discovered I was way wrong. Over at Aetiology, I made a snarky comment in the middle of a germ-denier thread about Newton recanting on his death bed. A “gravity denier” thereupon hijacked the thread.

    I blogged about it all here. Since July 2006 that post has had no less than 54 comments, making it one of the posts most commented on at my infant blog. Most of the gravity deniers making comments fundamentally misunderstand science in general, and physics specifically. Or, like Mr Satsangi here, figure they can out-think both Newton and Einstein, among others.

    Makes me want to smack myself in the forehead, and have a beer or two. Actually, skip the forehead smack.

  9. Dear Mattusmaximus

    Thanks for your response. As I have mentioned above that the above two papers I had already presented at two different International Conferences where thousands of academicians participated. I have also received very encouraging remarks to these papers from eminent Professors of Physics.

    How E=mc^2 can be tested ? There is lot of confusion.

  10. Dear Mattusmaximus

    Refer to your question- how does one go about testing your “theory”?

    Certainly it needs power of intuition developed by practice of meditation to test my “theory”. Kindly refer to Blog site “Fighting of the cause of Allah by Governing a Smart Mathematics Based on Islamic Teology” by Rohedi Laboratory,The Best Science on the World. Rohedi observed to my comments : “Congratulations you have develop the hihger theory of everything more wonderful than which has been developed by Stephen Hawking. Hopefully your some views for being considered for Unified Field Theory are recognized by International Science Community”

  11. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said

    Certainly it needs the power of intuition developed by the practice of meditation to test my theory. Rohedi has appreciated my views on theory of everything stating that it is more wonderful than the theory of Stephen Hawking. Kindly refer to his Blog site “Fighting of the cause of Allah by Governing a Smart Mathematics Based on Islamic Teology”

    • mattusmaximus said

      Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

      Certainly it needs the power of intuition developed by the practice of meditation to test my theory. Rohedi has appreciated my views on theory of everything stating that it is more wonderful than the theory of Stephen Hawking. Kindly refer to his Blog site “Fighting of the cause of Allah by Governing a Smart Mathematics Based on Islamic Teology”

      Making statements such as “Rohedi has appreciated my views on theory of everything” is not an outline for an experimental protocol – it is nothing more than a psuedoscientific argument from authority.

      You mentioned meditation as a “test” for your “theory” – please outline exactly how your “theory” can be experimentally falsified. That is, what measurement(s) would show that you are wrong?

  12. excuse me, mattusmaximus, neither my arguement is psuedoscientific nor I have any intention of arguing with any authority. If you are authority in some field I also do enjoy authority in my field of work. Some of my questions are still un-answered. When speed has no role in E=mc^2, how this conversion factor (c^2) had been arrived at in the formula by Einstein. Had this formula (E=mc^2) was tested and verified experimentally during the life time of Einstein. If not, whether it was termed as psuedoscientific?

    • mattusmaximus said

      Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

      excuse me, mattusmaximus, neither my arguement is psuedoscientific nor I have any intention of arguing with any authority. If you are authority in some field I also do enjoy authority in my field of work. Some of my questions are still un-answered. When speed has no role in E=mc^2, how this conversion factor (c^2) had been arrived at in the formula by Einstein. Had this formula (E=mc^2) was tested and verified experimentally during the life time of Einstein. If not, whether it was termed as psuedoscientific?

      I have provided you with information on how E=mc^2 was derived – here it is again…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_%3D_mc2

      Now whether or not you choose to do some basic homework and read the info I provide is up to you. If you want to be lazy and not do the research, fine by me – but don’t sit there and keep implying that E=mc^2 hasn’t been tested experimentally when it very clearly has been tested. This line of argumentation is the same as employed by creationists all the time: they ask for evidence of evolution, it is provided to them, and then they ask “Why isn’t anyone able to show evidence for evolution?” It is disingenuous and dishonest.

      And whether or not E=mc^2 was immediately tested right after Einstein proposed it is beside the point, because in the intervening time mass-energy equivalence has been tested and found to be valid in a huge number of experiments.

  13. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said

    mattusmaximus said quoting: ‘E=mc^2 passes tough MIT test by Elizabeth A. Thomson New Office, Dec.21, 2005.

    1. “The team found that the formula predicting that energy and mass are equivalent is correct to an incredible accuracy of better than one part in a million. That’s 55 times more precise than the best previous test”.

    2. Despite the results of the current test of E=mc^ Pritchard said:”This doesn’t mean it has been proven to be completely correct”.

    3. “It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing – a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind”.

    All the above statements indicate that E=mc^2 was not tested and verified experimentally during the life time of Einstein and even perhaps today it is in the process of experimentation. Till such time we reach at one hundred percent precise accuracy we should term Theory of Relativity as Pseudoscientific.

    And Dear mattusmaximus, kindly let me know what is this ‘same thing’ from where both mass and energy maninfested? I am quite sure you will find the reply for this question of mine in my comments which you have termed as ‘pseudoscientific’. Thank you

    • mattusmaximus said

      Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

      1. “The team found that the formula predicting that energy and mass are equivalent is correct to an incredible accuracy of better than one part in a million. That’s 55 times more precise than the best previous test”.

      Yes, this shows that E=mc^2 has not only been tested, but as it is tested out more and more it is found to be even more accurate! How is this any kind of argument in your favor?

      Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

      2. Despite the results of the current test of E=mc^ Pritchard said:”This doesn’t mean it has been proven to be completely correct”.

      Nice quote mine – another dishonest tactic often used by pseudoscientists, btw. The full quote is: “This doesn’t mean it has been proven to be completely correct. Future physicists will undoubtedly subject it to even more precise tests because more accurate checks imply that our theory of the world is in fact more and more complete.”

      So what Pritchard is actually saying is that because he expects more and more accurate tests in the future, if E=mc^2 stands up to that experimental scrutiny, as it has so far, then our confidence in this theory will be even greater. By quote mining in this manner, you are disingenuously attempting to give the opposite impression of what he’s actually saying.

      Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

      3. “It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing – a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind”.

      Yes, many aspects of modern physics are counter-intuitive and difficult for people to understand. So what?

      Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

      All the above statements indicate that E=mc^2 was not tested and verified experimentally during the life time of Einstein and even perhaps today it is in the process of experimentation. Till such time we reach at one hundred percent precise accuracy we should term Theory of Relativity as Pseudoscientific.

      Now you’re just moving the goalposts, another dishonest pseudoscientific tactic and logical fallacy. Before you claimed E=mc^2 wasn’t tested, and I proved you wrong. Then you claim that it wasn’t tested in Einstein’s day, which though it might be correct is irrelevant because it has (and continues to be) tested to higher and higher precision and found to be accurate as time goes on. So now you move the goalposts again and say that unless we have 100% precision & accuracy – which is impossible in any kind of experimental science – then you’ll just call E=mc^2 pseudoscience.

      And you then imply that because E=mc^2 hasn’t met your impossible criteria that then your ideas must be correct. This is yet another pseudoscientific tactic and logical fallacy called a false dichotomy. Even if E=mc^2 was shown to be wrong, which it hasn’t yet, then that would do nothing to support your ideas. You must provide positive evidence of your ideas, rather than tearing down accepted science.

      Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

      And Dear mattusmaximus, kindly let me know what is this ’same thing’ from where both mass and energy maninfested? I am quite sure you will find the reply for this question of mine in my comments which you have termed as ‘pseudoscientific’. Thank you

      I’m not exactly sure what the “same thing” really is, but I will venture to say that it is all energy – it’s just that mass is a specific manifestation of energy. A “solidified” form of energy, so to speak.

      Now you answer my previous question & challenge:
      You mentioned meditation as a “test” for your “theory” – please outline exactly how your “theory” can be experimentally falsified. That is, what measurement(s) would show that you are wrong?

      Answer my question, or the next time I will block your posts.

  14. I am working to establish my theory as a perfect blend of science and philosophy (religion). It is ridiculous to ask such question “how your theory can be experimentally falsified”. Please try to defend “theory” of Einstein which is facing the greatest challenge .

    • mattusmaximus said

      Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

      It is ridiculous to ask such question “how your theory can be experimentally falsified”.

      So you admit there is no way to test your ideas? Can’t say I’m surprised – this is par for the course when it comes to pseudoscience, it is ultimately unfalsifiable and therefore completely non-scientific. The fact that you don’t see this as a problem just goes to show how you really have no clue how modern science works. If you wish to call your ideas philosophy, knock yourself out. But don’t call them scientific because you aren’t interested in meeting the criteria of science – you just want to leap past all the work and get the credit of science. Sorry, that’s just not good enough.

      In accordance with my earlier ultimatum, I will be blocking your further comments to this blog. However, I would like to thank you for providing me with an excellent example of how pseudoscientists attempt to push their bogus claims. Our running conversation should make good fodder for a future blog post.

  15. [...] in Texas?Wisdom in a CookieThe Need for Science Teachers”Miracle on the Hudson” Conspiracy WooGravity: Only A TheoryQuick Update: Texas Science StandardsBogus “Borneo Monster””Borneo Monster” [...]

  16. I have always had trouble wrapping my brain around the notion that all of the universe started as a small point of energy. For one thing, our measurement of distance is based on the rate of light propagation, so how can you know the size of the universe at such small sizes? This got me to hypothesize that the universe is not expanding, but that its “spaces” are dividing into ever smaller proportions of the universe. Since we are in the universe, we perceive the division as expansion.

  17. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said

    Newton was genius. He is all time great. He has no parallel in scintists’ community.

  18. Joel Mirabito said

    I am going to show you what causes gravity.
    Get a bucket of water, put a little sand in and stir the water round and round.
    You will observe the sand go to the centre of the spinning current.
    This is also why the earth rotates.

  19. Anonymous said

    […] […]

  20. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said

    What do you think about my following views?

    Radhasoami Faith View of Modus Operandi of Creation of Universe

    Part – I

    There is cosmological evidence for God and the Universe existed before
    Big Bang .
    Stephen Hawking writes in The Grand Design, “It is not necessary to
    invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.”
    Hawking said the Big Bang was merely the consequence of the law of
    gravity. In A Brief History of Time, Hawking had suggested that the
    idea of God or a divine being was not necessarily incompatible with a
    scientific understanding of the Universe.
    Although Hawking is very close to Truth yet he is not perfect in his
    views while discarding the role of divine being. I consider the role
    of eternal gravity uppermost but I strongly differ with Hawking on the
    role of divine being. I consider Divine Ordainment is the cause of
    Creation of Universe.
    Now I give Radhasoami Faith view of Creation Theory. In Sar Bachan
    (Poetry) composed by His Holiness Soamiji Maharaj the August Founder
    of Radhasoami Faith the details of creation and dissolution has been
    described very scientifically. It is written in Jeth Mahina (name of
    Hindi moth) in this Holy Book: Only He Himself (Supreme Father)and
    none else was there. There issued forth a great current of
    spirituality, love and grace (In scientific terminology we may call
    this current as gravitational wave). This is called His Mauj (Divine
    Ordainment). This was the first manifestation of Supreme Being. This
    Divine Ordainment brought into being three regions, viz., Agam, Alakh,
    and Satnam of eternal bliss. Then a current emerged with a powerful
    sound (this was the first Big Bang). It brought forth the creation of
    seven Surats or currents of various shades and colours (in scientific
    terminology we may call it electromagnetic waves). Here the true Jaman
    or coagulant was given (in scientific terminology this coagulant may
    be called as weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force). Surats,
    among themselves, brought the creation into being.
    These currents descended down further and brought the whole
    universe/multi verse into being i.e. black holes, galaxies etc. were
    born.
    I would like to add further that sound energy and gravitational force
    current are non polar entity and electromagnetic force is bi-polar.
    Hence spiritual polarization, if occurred, is occurred in the region
    of Sat Lok and region below to it only.
    Infinite expanse of gravitational force field is the region of dark energy.

    In Bible it is written that in the beginning was the Word; the Word
    was with God; and the Word was God.
    According to Radhasoami Faith “Shabd (Word) is the beginning and end
    of all. The three loks (worlds) and the fourth Lok, all have been
    created by Shabd.” (Sar Bachan Poetry)

    Part-II

    Here the true Jaman (coagulant) was given. The spirituality coagulated
    as it were, and Surats (spirit entities), among themselves, brought
    the creation into being. Thereafter, another Jaman (coagulant) was
    given. Regions from Agam Lok (Inaccessible Region) to Sat Lok (True
    Region) were created during the first creational process. That
    creation is true. That region is eternal. There is no trace of evil
    and suffering. This was the creation for many Yugas and ages. Then
    there appeared a dark coloured current
    That current appeared like a dark coloured stone set in a white one
    and was absorbed in the Darshan of True Being. Then there appeared two
    Kalas i.e. currents (viz. Niranjan and Jyoti) and they together
    evolved the creation of five Tattwas (elements) four Khans (species,
    categories of life) and three Gunas (qualities). The three Gunas
    (qualities) brought about the expansion and proliferation . They
    created Rishis and Munis (sages and holy men), gods and godly human
    beings and demons. Egotism then increased much. Niranjan separated
    himself from the rest, putting the burden of looking after the
    creation on them. Nobody could know of Niranjan. Even the Vedas
    referred to Him as Neti Neti (Not this, Not this). They did not get
    Darshan (Vision) of Niranjan. They made conjectures. Then how can
    anybody have knowledge of Sat Purush (True Being), Source of Niranjan
    and all that exists.
    Scientifically here Jyoti represent three Fundamental Forces of
    Quantum Mechanics i.e. electromagnetic force, weak nuclear force and
    strong nuclear force. NIRANJAN is the fourth Fundamental Force i.e.
    Gravitation Force. Scientific explanation follows in support of my
    views.

    Part-III

    Einstein struggled and failed to formulate this theory, but it has
    already been shown that at high enough energies electromagnetism and
    the weak force are the same force known as the electroweak force. It
    is theorized that if energies are increased even further and neutrinos
    acquire mass, which has now been fully documented, all the known
    forces will reduce to the same force thus providing the basis for the
    Grand Unified Theory. This high energy level existed only during the
    very early expansion of the Universe known as the Planck Epoch which
    existed up to 10 to the negative 43rd seconds after the Big Bang where
    the four fundamental forces – electromagnetism, weak nuclear force,
    strong nuclear force and gravitation – all had the same strength.
    After that point the energy level decreased and gravity separated from
    the other 3 fundamental forces and with condensation of elementary
    particles (quarks, leptons, and gauge bosons) into matter formed the
    so-called Standard Model of today’s Universe. (Source: Comments by
    William H. Depperman posted at blog http://factoidz.com/scientific…

    It is well known that nothing or very little is known about
    gravitational force till today. It is a mysterious force.

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