The Surprising truth about Gravity
For or the sake of not teaching a physics class, we'll focus on the Law of Gravity as the main subject of this article. Let begin with a few questions:
1. Is gravity working right now?
2. Do you feel gravity in work on you?
3. When was the last time you saw gravity work?
I'm going to make an assumption, which I don't like to do because you know what that makes out of you and me, but I'm going to assume your answers were: Yes, um... no, and the last time something fell. Am I right? If not, I'm close. My point is that we all, as educated human beings, have a pretty decent grasp on this gravity thing.
When an apple falls from a tree, it's gravity. When you don't tie your shoes, trip on your laces and fall, it's gravity (well inertia really but gravity plays a part here). When you go skydiving, it's gravity, hence the reason you need a chute.
Gravity is one of those things that just is. You wake up in the morning in your bed and not floating off into space because of gravity... Right?
The Law of Dipstu
So the other day, as I woke up in my bed, not floating into space (thanks gravity) I thought about what it must have been like to "discover" gravity. It always existed but without its pretense, it really is a novel idea. That would be like me telling you the reason birds fly is because of the Law of Dipstu which is when yadda yadda, insert science terms here, yaddaa yadda yadda. The Law of Gravity was such a novel concept but what was Newton's inspiration to discover it?
Well, as natural forward thinking humans (except people who epically fail on American Idol and think the judges were wrong) we are more likely to question things that don't have an answer, just like good ol' Isaac did when those apples kept falling and hitting his head. Good thing it wasn't a jackfruit tree...! (Seriously, look it up)
When you explore your mind on gravity, it truly is amazing and I bet you get some pretty cool eureka moments and a few road blocks as well.
So let's explore gravity...
Gravity is the reason a penny dropped off a tall building hits the ground. It's also what keeps the oceans from running off the sides of our ball earth, holds our atmosphere down, and lets Americans and Australians all stand on the earth at the same time without a bunch of people floating off into space.
I would like to challenge you, if only to be human, to question gravity just as Isaac Newton did before gravity was a "law". When the apple falls from the tree, it hits the ground but why? You may say, "Because gravity pulls it down you idiot," to which I would ask, what if a helium filled ballon fell from a tree? It would go up right? Why though? That sounds more like buoyancy to me than gravity. The apple falls because it is heavier than the air around it and the balloon rises because it is lighter.
Airplanes are heavy, which is why they sit on the ground when they aren't in use. When an airplane is in the air why doesn't it plummet to the ground like MC Hammer's album sales? Gravity would dictate that it should but there are a bunch of fancy principals in place such as drag and others which basically create an air pocket of buoyancy. (search that out online for further reading yourselves)
The Law of Gravity states, in a very simplistic form, that mass attracts mass, and I don't care how hard you try, you are never going to get something to orbit Big Bubba from down the street nor are you, on a serious note, going to get a massive object, like a skyscraper we'll say, to show a measurable affect on another object. You can say, well sure man, that's because the Earth's gravity outweighs it, to which I would say, the how does the moon's gravity affect our tides? Shouldn't the earth's gravity outweigh it? And for that matter, why does the moon get closer (because of our gravity), effect the tides (moon's gravity) then get farther away again (mystery gravity?).
No matter what you postulate concerning gravity, there is always a simpler answer or a huge plot hole.
The fact of the matter is, gravity was theorized and accepted as fact without any measureable proof because it was widely accepted to be the only plausible explanation, assuming Copernicus was right. Let's face it, if we live on a ball where half the world is upside down at once and no one goes floating into space, there has to be some magical force that keeps order in everything; that is gravity. However... there is a much simpler explanation... Density and Buoyancy. No matter what you do, removing gravity from a physics equation does not cause problems. You will have to recalculate for density and the like but it doesn't disrupt things enough to make your heads explode unless you're just that stubborn.
The bottom line here is, no matter how scary, stupid, or insightful you may view this article to be, the truth is that gravity can always be explained by density as long as you're talking about things on this earth. (Planetary gravity is a topic for another article) In writing this article I hope it challenges or inspires you to question the world around you with more conviction. A question today is a fact tomorrow. What can you prove to the future?