It has also been a long time since I posted anything about physics …. ironically during the school year I read very little about trends in physics, while over the summer I tend to read a lot more. This article caught my attention. A physics professor in the Netherlands is joining a growing list of physicists who are asserting that gravity is greatly misunderstood.
Kids learn in introductory physics that gravity is a force, a pull of attraction between masses. Newton demonstrated this, Cavendish eloquently measured its fundamental constant, and we have used that information to send men to the moon and steer space probes to the edge of our solar system. The description of gravity is understood fairly well. As a matter of fact, today we more or less recognize gravity as one of four fundamental forces in the universe along with electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces.
What has long been missing is the “why”. Newton wrote of his embarrassment to propose the universal law of gravity absent an explanation. 300 years later, physics is still at that stage of waiting. Einstein took an excellent shot at it in proposing the General Theory of Relativity which proposed that gravity is a consequence of curved space-time; famously demonstrated by holding out a spread bed sheet and placing a ball in the center. Rolling marbles across the sheet at various speeds will behave similar to objects moving in real space near massive objects.
However, for most of the past 100 years, physics has been able to mathematically unite thee of the four forces: electromagnetism and the nuclear forces. Gravity, it would seem, was the black sheep of the family of forces. Some figured it would be just a matter of time before we found some way to unite them.
But time has passed, and so far that connection is still missing. While scientists continue to search, at some point one has to ask some very fundamental questions: are we searching in vain? Is there in fact no connection between gravity and the other forces … if there isn’t, is it then proper to postulate that maybe gravity isn’t a force, and is instead some other phenomenon?
The above article discusses how there is an emerging belief that gravity is more related to thermodynamics and entropy than force and motion. The link between these two has existed for many decades with Stephen Hawking (the world famous guy in the wheelchair who talks with a computer), having been involved in some of the ground work in his studies of black holes and thermodynamics back in the 1970s.
I, without having done any research, have long suspected that the day was coming when something regarding gravity being something wholly different and unique from what we thought it was, would be coming. I cannot say this is what I thought it would be …. and certainly this idea has a long way to go before it gains universal acceptance. But it appears that some very old ideas may be coming in for some kind of reassessment soon.