Friday, March 24, 2006

Gravity Sucks

It may be trite, and it may be a bumper sticker, but it's true.

Gravity Sucks.

Near as I can tell, no one has a handle on how gravity works.

The Standard Model of particle physics posits a graviton (as well as a Higgs Boson that give matter the properties of mass). However, neither has ever been observed or measured. And recent analyses of how a Standard Model graviton must be created, it's frequency, and its rare interaction with matter indicate that none ever will be observed.

From the article (since it is subscriber only):
The gravitational force between a proton and an electron in a hydrogen atom is about 1040 times weaker than the electromagnetic force between them. This weakness reflects the extreme rarity with which gravitons interact with particles of matter, and for graviton hunters this spells trouble. "It is this incredibly weak interaction that makes directly detecting a single graviton phenomenally difficult," Rothman says...a detector placed as far from the sun as Earth is now would detect about 1000 gravitons. Placing the detector the same distance from a super-dense white dwarf or neutron star would collect up to a billion gravitons. That's one every decade or so.
It is this "rare interaction with matter" that really bothers me. Observation indicates that gravity affects all mass, constantly - not just an atom here or there every decade or so. So any "carrier" of gravity like a graviton must have high interaction with matter, or there must be a lot of them. I'm not a physicist, but I wish someone could explain this seemingly glaring discrepency to me.

General relativity tries to explain gravity as a warping of space-time due to the presence of mass. While it has proven very useful as an accurate way of describing what appears to be taking place, it doesn't explain why this curvature of space-time should happen, and what actually causes the property of mass also isn't explained. It is inconsistent with the similarly successful descriptive equations used in quantum mechanics. Nor have we detected the gravity waves that this theory predicts. So while this seems to have reasonable descriptive power, it lacks explanatory power.

Other recent articles are more intriguing. The most interesting I've read recently regard the Heim Theory. Consistent with Einstein's theory of General Relativity, (in fact, the tensors include those of Einstein's space-time, plus some others that have more ambiguous physical meaning) this theory appears to have great explanatory power, allowing for the derivation of mass estimates for known particles, as well as describing how both gravitation and gravito-photonic forces work.

There are some current experiments going on that may move us toward the Heim Theory. One at ESA (which was actually slash-dotted the last time I tried to access it, since someone posted a blurb on this experiment on /.), and another here which describes an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for an experiment to explore Heim-Dröscher space (based on Heim Theory). Both of these deal with using rotating strong magnetic fields, which Heim Theory says should induce a gravito-photonic force that can "reduce gravity".

A true understanding of gravity would have enormous implications to all walks of life. Not only would it finally break the deadlock on the development of a TOE (which in turn would unlock many other technology possibilities), it could have immediate effect on modes of transportation here on (and off) earth.

Stay tuned.

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