Mon 30 Apr, 2012 04:11 am
The true source of gravity has been a consuming passion of mine for many years now, although we have two wonderful descriptions from two giants of physics: The Law of Universal Gravitation from Sir Isaac Newton and General Relativity from Albert Einstein and are, to date, our best descriptions of gravity, the math of either will describe planetary motion, binary star or multiple object motion, or allow you to launch and deploy a satellite, space telescope or space station with great accuracy.
However, physicists, cosmologists and astronomers are trying to reconcile two great theories into one; namely, General Relativity, our very best description of gravity and Quantum Theory, which to most of us is the most accurate description of nature ever. To unite both into Quantum Gravity would be a major triumph, but, although the math of either is beautifully elegant and accurate, they simply will not unite, they are uneasy bedfellows. Gravity at a quantum level, at the present time, seems to be very elusive.
At the age of almost 60, I have enjoyed finding out how things work, both in the universe and in our normal daily lives and no matter whether it is a book, programme, website or indeed any form of media, gravity is always presented as an attractive phenomena - one body of matter being attracted to another.
However, I am growing more and more resentful of the term. Also, when astronomers' observations determined that the universe is accelerating in its expansion, this added more fuel to my dislike of the term "attractive".
The two masses of a torsion balance are "attracted"? to each other by an amount recorded on the calibrated scale to which we refer as Big G (The Gravitational Constant).
The Torsion Balance is a simple piece of apparatus, yet it has, for me, thrown up a deep conundrum. Are the masses being "pulled" or "attracted" to each other, or are they being "pushed together" or "repulsed" by another common component of the unierse, the expanding vacuum?
As I write these notes the vacuum of space is expanding through me, my desk, the planet beneath my feet, faster than the speed of light. If I could chalk a three-inch diameter circle upon the vacuum and count off ten seconds, my circle would be about the size of the solar system. One could say that it is violently fast, yet I cannot feel a thing. It does not blow me off my seat; it does not scatter my papers all over the place, nothing. How could such a phenomena be the true source of gravity?
The true nature of gravity is so beautifully subtle and elusive that I decided to take a look at atoms, the very building blocks of you and me, my desk, the planet beneath my feet and everything else in the universe.
Atoms in their fundamental essence are the most simple of structures and to me, the most elegant and beautiful even though I cannot see them.
In the nucleus of the atom are particles of matter. Firstly, the Positive Proton and then the Neutral Neutron. Last, but not least, we have the Negative Electrons in orbit around the nucleus in their various energy shells.
What is so amazing about an atom of you and me is that the mass ie, the protons and neutrons, occupy about a billionth of the volume of space, so you and I, my desk, the planet beneath our feet, is probably over ninety-nine per cent empty space. Amazing, yes, baffling, more so.
Take a one-inch cube of steel and place it in a very powerful hydraulic press, start to apply pressure to the cube and before very long you will see the cube being deformed out of shape. But, switch off the lgiths and you will soon see the now deformed cube glow in the dark (ie it is becoming hotter). Please remember, heat is simply electron motion. You could, with accuracy, say that the energy of the press is being transformed into energy of light as per the First Law of Thermodynamics and you would maybe not question it further. But I ask, why would all of the electrons in that cube do it in the first plae, their motion becoming faster and faster, absorbing the energy of the press and re-emitting it as light. there surely must be a more fundamental reason for them to do such a thing.
What if I made the suggestion that they do it for one reason and one reaosn only; to protect the space within the atom, at all costs? Relatively speaking, the distance from one nucleus to another in the cube is colossal. Why would a cube of steel, or indeed any other form of matter, go to such trouble to protect that quite simply enormous amount of space, at all costs.
What if I made another suggtestion, which is based on the following information I have to hand. The nucleus of the atom with its Protons and Neutrons is kept well away from the nucleus of another atom. What is it about these particles that makes the distance between them very important?
Protons and Neutrons are fundamental and although I know they are made up of Quarks, the one thing that somes to mind is that they are apparently infinitely dense structures. The vacuum of space cannot permeate to the centre of these objects. There is a definite boundary between space-time energy and particle.
The Laws of Physics cannot apply within the boundary of the particle, they cannot, under any circumstances, be visually observed.
I would like to make the following statement:
MY VOLUME IS SPACE-TIME ENERGY
MY MASS IS EXTERNAL TO IT
When I see the astronauts empty a tumbler of water in the confines of the space station and observe it forming a perfect sphere, my thoughts do not tell me that the atoms are somehow "attracted" to one another, but rather the energy of the vacuum is trying to crush the atoms out of existence or rather the nuclei. But what prevents the vacuum energy's victory? The vast distance between one nucleus and the next, fought for by the electrons.
Electrons, they are the guardians of you, me, my desk, the planet beneath my feet and every body of matter in the universe, embroiled in an eternal battle against its bitter enemy, the expanding energy of space-time. Something so subtle that it can move galaxies apart and yet at the same time, try to squeeze their mass out of existence. Also, if that is not enough to contemplate, because particles of mass are external to space-time energy, we perceive gravity as the weakest of the four fundamental forces of nature. Believe you me, it is not, it is the most powerful force of nature way beyond the rest, all of the electrons in the universe only making it appear so. Electrons placing the "wolf into sheep's clothing".
The particles of my mass could fit inside a grain of sand, with room to spare, yet they are split into tiny amounts and spread over a huge area, with the electrons protecting the huge tracts of space in between each piece, electrons 2,000 times smaller than a proton and they are existing in space-time energy, protecting the particles in the nuclei which are external to it. These electrons of mine have been doing battle with space-time energy for possibly billions of years.