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Gravity: A Great Friend or an Implacable Enemy?
Can't understand it, never mind photograph it.Click thumbnail to view full-size
As much a part of our lives as our very being. But what would life have been like without the "weak force?"
There are many things in our lives that can take on the mantle of friend or foe, depending on how we use them, find them, or get in their way at the wrong time.
We can all thing of a hundred examples: fire is the one most often quoted; it can burn and kill you, or it can warm you, even saving your life and cooking your food, and more. Water may be another, you - and every living thing on the planet - cannot exist long without it, yet it can change into the worst kind of destructive monster: floods, tsunamis, even used as a torture in "waterboarding."
Some may say this also applies to the opposite sex...love, if you like. Poets and kings have all described and many been destroyed by love in its many forms, but it is also the most exciting and rewarding emotion man can ever have. (OK, same sex too...sigh).
The list goes on, but how many have added the subject of today's article, Gravity?
Well, look at the phenomena which no one really understands or can explain. Einstein tried and largely failed, along with many more. Gravity remains an enigma, but it is surely a friend whose laws (whatever they really are) we have had to adjust to. Our very evolution: the shape we are, the weight and how our organs are constructed, all depend on this constant, silent force - with us for all our lives and for the life of our world.
So gravity is a friend, but only because it has imposed its force upon us and created our dependence; now, we cannot exist on Earth without it keeping our feet on the ground, so to speak - and actually.
Assuming we would all be the same size and shape if gravity didn't exist - we wouldn't of course - imagine how life would be if we weren't held in place in this cosmic prison. We could fly like the birds, for example; like superman, we could leap over the highest building, well, actually we could leap, but we wouldn't come down the other side without some man-made assistance. Like spacemen, we would need small rockets to bring us back down. And careful how you control that speed, too! Great for suicides, they could just jump and not come back, expiring somewhere among the thunderheads as the oxygen ran out.
There would be accidental deaths by the thousands - millions - war would consist of finding brilliant ways to sabotage the enemy's safety systems sending the battalions off to the stars, flags waving and trumpets sounding...
It would be good to go without the "weak force" in other ways, too. We wouldn't drop things on our toes...but throwing something away - into the garbage bucket for example, would also set up a counter-force impelling us out the kitchen window. Help! we would shout to an anchored neighbor weeding his garden, "I don't have my returners on!" And he would quickly call the "sky guards" who would shoot up and stop you drifting through the universe for all time.
All sorts of inventions would be common to compensate for the lack of gravity (asuming this happened after we had evolved). Metal sheets might be imbedded in the earth and we, as well as animals, would have magnets on our feet. Commonest would be tethers of a length we needed to keep us a described distance from terra firma. You would have the "designer tether company," the "ultra strong item in suede effect," or the "transparent model," let your friends think you're living dangerously.
We might still have aircraft but no landing strips would be needed, just a small jet that blows us upwards like a Harrier Jet. Or for the young and adventurous, a small "tow plane" behind which float a chattering bunch of excited passengers, taking the open air journey to wherever. Employees with plastic "doggie poop" bags could collect the clouds of urine and poop floating behind the passengers.
Careful with that skeet gun! Yes, you could still shoot skeet or pigeons, even miles away, but the bullets would go up...and up...and up, maybe taking out a couple of those chattering passengers or even ending up killing an astronaut in the space station. The "skymen" would be the people most at home in a gravity free world. Little Green Men in faraway universes might one day complain, "Take cover, guys, it's another shower of bullets from those idiots in the Milky Way!"
One good thing, the old adage that "something that goes up must come down would no longer be true," In fact, it would now read, "something that goes up never returns without help."
The truth is, of course, we would not have evolved anything like we are today in a gravity free world. If we happened at all, we might well be microscopic as other laws govern the very small which would stay on the ground due to surface tension of a sort, or sucker feet, etc.. We could also be very large, but diaphonous in form, like huge dragonflies for example. As long as we had an atmosphere, birds and this type of Homo sapien could stay or go and would not be helpless, without a force holding them to the planet's surface.
In truth, all of the above cannot be either friend nor enemy unless we so allow them to. We know how to manage fire and (mostly) water; love? Heck, who needs it, too much of a risk. And Gravity, well, we only know life with it: its benefits and its nuisance value. We couldn't play the sports we love without it restraining the ball to taking a parabolic curve after we gave it energy with a kick or a throw, or a racquet and bat.
But we could all conquer Everest with little difficulty - but then, why would anyone want to? rather like reading silly articles like this!
And before some wise-farce lectures me: yes, the very fabric of the earth would probably fly apart without gravity, making all I have said here a nonsense...again!
Love you all...Diogenes.