Gravitational Weirdness

Well, a few scientists are spiffing up theories of how gravity functions.

It’s not a complete paper yet, and whenever you have a string theorist involved, my skeptometer goes to code yellow. But there are a few concepts at play here that I find interesting.

Verlinde uses the holographic principle to consider what is happening to a small mass at a certain distance from a bigger mass, say a star or a planet. Moving the small mass a little, he shows, means changing the information content, or entropy, of a hypothetical holographic surface between both masses. This change of information is linked to a change in the energy of the system.

Statistical analysis shows that movements towards the larger object are more likely than moves away. This expresses gravity as an inherent property of matter in space-time.

Well, it could certainly be an exciting time to be alive if this turns out to be true! Better understanding of gravity could lead to all sorts of developments – maybe we’ll finally do away with the need for dark matter, solve the Pioneer anomaly and get ourselves some warp drives (okay, that last one is mostly just me wanting a warp drive).

Gravity can create order. For instance, mix two fluids of differing densities in a container. Gravity will separate them, increasing entropy and giving off radiation.

Hopefully this research will be more than just some hype. The thrill of discovery, even when experienced vicariously, is quite the thrill indeed.

Of course, there’s an alternative explanation for all this: These scientists are getting weird gravitational readings because of this man’s giant balls.


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