Path breaking ideas seem to come to people at the most unlikely times and in the most improbable places. Galileo Galilei for instance was sitting in a church in Pisa one day, when, probably bored by the sermon, his attention was caught by a swinging chandelier. He decided to measure the time taken for the chandelier to swing back and forth using his pulse as a reference. He was surprised to find that the time taken for each swing of the chandelier was independent of the amplitude of the chandelier’s swing.
That is he found that if the pendulum swung over a wide arc it moved faster and if it swung over a narrow arc it moved slower, but in either case it took the same amount of time. Thus Galileo is credited with the discovery of isochronicity in the motion of pendulums, although this applies to small amplitudes, with larger amplitudes the isochronicity of pendulums does not apply. In 1851 Foucault used a pendulum to demonstrate the rotation of the earth.
Galileo also worked on the motion of objects, legend has it that he climbed to the top of the leaning tower of Pisa to drop objects made of different substances to see which would fall faster, he came to the conclusion that in a vacuum all objects would fall at the same rate. His experiments with the motion of objects using an inclined plane came up with the view that objects retained their velocity unless acted on by an external force. Even more remarkable than the circumstance of all these discoveries is the fact that many of the ideas he put forward had already been thought of. For instance Nicole Oreseme had derived the times squared law for uniformly accelerated change almost two centuries before Galileo. Domingo De Sato had in the 16th. Century suggested that bodies falling through a homogenous medium would experience uniform acceleration and Johanne Kepler had put forward the idea that tidal forces were related to the moon and that planetary orbits around the sun might be elliptical. Galileo’s achievement was in bringing these ideas together into a logically ordered structure that could be reproduced under varying conditions. He used geometrical constructions and mathematically precise language to define the times squared law of uniform acceleration, although it was left to others to apply suitable algebraic constructions to these ideas.
Galileo was without doubt one of the greatest scientists of all time. His work on the motion of objects was followed up by Isaac Newton who improved upon many of his ideas and corrected others giving us the three laws of motion as we know them today:
- First law: When viewed in an inertial reference frame, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force.
- Second law: . The vector sum of the forces F on an object is equal to the mass m of that object multiplied by the acceleration vector a of the object.
- Third law: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.
Newton is probably the scientist who has made the greatest contribution to the science of physics. Together with scientists like Christian Huygens he put the study of science on an empirical and hence a reproducible basis. His work with light, colours, study of motion and with gravity marked a critical turning point in the History of man. He not only studied the planets but also invented the mathematical tools such as calculus by which he could express their movements.
Although it was possible using Newton’s Gravitational Theory to explain in great detail and with amazing accuracy, the effects that gravity had it was not possible to deduce why it had these effects or what the causative factor behind gravity was. So the force of gravity along with the constancy of the speed of light became two of the great mysteries that modern science has never been able to resolve.
Yet Newton’s Theory of Gravity was not accepted at face value, there were problems. How did gravity act across such vast distances with no medium in between? The German philosopher, mathematician and scientist, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who is credited with developing Calculus independently at the same time as Newton, believed that some form of matter must be present in space that caused the planets to assume the orbits that they did. He called his theory a ‘vortice’ theory and believed it was the vortices that guided the planets in their orbits around the sun. Christian Huygens whose wave theory of light contradicted Newton’s particle or corpuscular notion of light was a strong supporter of Leibniz. Both of them believed that Newton’s Theory of Gravity favoured action at a distance:
“It is also a supernatural thing that bodies should attract one another at a distance without any intermediate means and that a body should move around without receding in the tangent, though nothing hinders it from so receding. For these effects cannot be explained by the nature of things.”
Newton was increasingly embroiled in philosophical disputes with Leibniz. In order to account for the motions of the planetary bodies in his Tentamen of 1690, Leibniz introduces ex hypothesi the premise that some kind of fluid surrounds, and is contiguous to, the various planetary bodies, and then argues that this fluid must be in motion to account for their orbits. Newton may have argued that Leibniz had “feigned” the hypothesis of the vortices. A debate between the two philosophers on this score would bring them to the question of the mechanical philosophy: whereas Newton would object to Leibniz’s reasoning on methodological grounds, Leibniz would reply that Newton’s theory of gravity involves action at a distance, which his vortex hypothesis avoids (see below for more details). Newton reached the following conclusion: “Gravity acts on all bodies universally and is proportional to the quantity of matter in each”.
Yet Newton himself was deeply troubled by the notion of action at a distance:
“It is inconceivable that inanimate brute matter should, without the mediation of something else which is not material, operate upon and affect other matter without mutual contact, as it must be, if gravitation in the sense of Epicurus, be essential and inherent in it. And this is one reason why I desired you would not ascribe innate gravity to me. That gravity should be innate, inherent, and essential to matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum, without the mediation of anything else, by and through which their action and force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an absurdity that I believe no man who has in philosophical matters a competent faculty of thinking can ever fall into it. Gravity must be caused by an agent acting constantly according to certain laws; but whether this agent be material or immaterial, I have left open to the consideration of my readers. “
Yet the idea of ‘vortices’ that influenced the motion of planets seemed to him a worse option”
“For since celestial motions are more regular than if they arose from vortices and observe other laws, so much so that vortices contribute not to the regulation but the disturbance of the motions of planets and comets; and since all phenomena of the heavens and of the sea follow precisely, so far as I am aware, from nothing but gravity acting in accordance with the laws described by me; and since nature is very simple, I have myself concluded that all other causes are to be rejected and that the heavens are to be stripped as far as may be of all matter, lest the motions of planets and comets be hindered or rendered irregular. But if, meanwhile, someone explains gravity along with all its laws by the action of some subtle matter, and shows that the motion of planets and comets will not be disturbed by this matter, I shall be far from objecting.”
Hence Newton thinks that he has established the fact that gravity acts on all material bodies in proportion to their quantity of matter, but he has not established the existence of the aether.
He repeats this in another soliloquy:
“Hitherto we have explained the phenomena of the heavens and of our sea by the power of gravity, but have not yet assigned the cause of this power. This is certain, that it must proceed from a cause that penetrates to the very centers of the sun and the planets, without suffering the least diminution of its force; that operates not according to the quantity of the surfaces of the particles upon which it acts (as mechanical causes used to do) , but according to the quantity of solid matter which they contain, and propagates its virtue on all sides to great distances , decreasing always in the dulicate proportion of the distances……But hitherto I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties of gravity from phenomena, and I frame no hypotheses (Hypotheses non fingo); for whatever is not deduced from the phenomena is to be called a hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, whether of occult qualities or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. “
With this phrase, one of the most famous in all of Newton’s writings, he returned to a key theme of his very first optical paper from forty years earlier, viz. the proper role of hypotheses and of hypothetical reasoning within natural philosophy.
“In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction. Thus it was that the impenetrability, the mobility, and the impulsive forces of bodies, and the laws of motion and gravitation, were discovered. And to us it is enough that gravity does really exist, and act according to the laws which we have explained, and abundantly serves to account for all the motions of the celestial bodies and of our sea.”
But those who have studied Newton’s works in detail have no doubt that he did support the existence of an Aether like medium. David Hume 1711- 1776 states that:
“It was never the meaning of Sir ISAAC NEWTON to rob second causes of all force or energy; though some of his followers have endeavoured to establish that theory upon his authority. On the contrary, that great philosopher had recourse to an ethereal active fluid to explain his universal attraction; though he was so cautious and modest as to allow, that it was a mere hypothesis, not to be insisted on, without more experiments.”
However as we are aware the argument for the Aether did not end there, that in fact was the starting point for an assumption, that an Aether does exist, that was to last for another four hundred years until Michelson & Morley claimed to have proved that the Aether did not exist.
Thus the Gestalt Aether Theory has a sound foundation when it advocates the existence of ‘virtual photon aether’ that permeates every part of the Universe. But how does this Aether provide an explanation for gravity ? To answer that question it is necessary to go back to Newton’s theory of gravity:
Gravity is one of the weakest forces found in nature approx.. times less than the weak force.
How weak is gravity? We can find out by comparing the gravitational force with the electromagnetic force, the other long-range force in nature, in the case of a hydrogen atom. By using Coulomb’s law of electrical attraction and repulsion we can compute the magnitude of the attractive electrical force, FE, between the electron and proton and Newton’s Law of universal gravitation, which will discuss in the next section, to calculate the magnitude of the gravitational force, FG, between the two particles. We find that . Because both forces decrease as the square of the distance between the objects, the gravitational force between the electron and proton remains almost 40 orders of magnitude weaker than the electric force at all distances. That is a number so large that we can hardly fathom it: roughly the ratio of the size of the observable universe to the size of an atomic nucleus. Relatively speaking, at short distances the strong, weak, and electromagnetic forces all have comparable strengths, 40 orders of magnitude stronger than gravity.
The strength of the gravitational force relative to the electromagnetic force maybe calculated as follows . Where :
electron mass = kilograms
proton mass = Kgs
Gravitational constant Nm2/kg2
Electromagnetic constant Nm2/kg2
The contrast has practical consequences. We can easily feel the magnetic force between two refrigerator magnets, yet we don’t feel the gravitational force of attraction between our hands when they are near to one another. The force is there, but too weak to notice. Physicists use sensitive instruments such as the torsion balances to detect the gravitational force between small objects. But the measurements require great care to ensure that residual electric and magnetic forces do not overwhelm the feeble gravitational effects.
Nevertheless, gravity is the force we experience most often. Whether lifting our arms, climbing a staircase, or throwing a ball, we routinely feel and compensate for the effects of our gravitational attraction to the Earth in our daily lives. We call the direction opposite to Earth’s gravity “up.” Removing the effects of Earth’s gravity in a free fall off a diving board or the weightlessness of space leaves us disoriented. Gravity holds the Moon in orbit about the Earth, the Earth in orbit about the Sun, and the Sun in orbit about the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Gravity holds groups of galaxies together in clusters and, we believe, governs the largest structures in the universe.
Gestalt Aether Theory holds that the key to understanding gravity is to understand how weak the gravitational force is. A figure of 10-39 is such a vast number that it is almost equal to all the atoms in the Universe, so for Gravity to be that much weaker than the electromagnetic force is really the first clue. The second clue is that gravity acts over massive distances. We do not know if gravity travels at a finite speed or if it is always there. The Gestalt Aether Theory will answer all these questions.
You remember how Newton believed that any theory which would satisfy gravity would have to penetrate to the hearts of stars and planets without any diminution of force ! You remember that he said that it will act not upon the quantity of the surfaces of the particles upon which it acts (as mechanical causes used to do) , but according to the quantity of solid matter which they contain. The Gestalt Aether Theory offers an explanation which fulfills all of these requirements. How?
Think back to the lamb shift that electrons as they orbit the nucleus are constantly emitting and absorbing ‘virtual photons’ which although they have normal energies have extremely short life spans. Thus a ‘virtual photon’ might last something on the order of secs. Sound familiar ? Yes the numbers begin to match, the difference between the gravitational force and the electromagnetic force. So gravitation according to Gestalt Aether theory is the result of “virtual “ forces. Is the speed of gravity finite? We do not know and cannot say because electrons everywhere are constantly emitting and absorbing ‘virtual photons’ there is no start and no end to it! What does this result in? It causes the photons of the ‘virtual photon aether’ to line up for tiny trillionth trillionths of a second in the direction of propagation of the emitted virtual photons. This is the force of gravity! Look at a normal atom that comes under irradiation from sunlight during the daytime, its electrons are emitting photons at the rate of /secs, you can be sure that the number of ‘virtual photons’ being emitted and absorbed by photons that are idle within the atom approaches the same rate of emission and absorption.
So slight is the force exerted by the emitted ‘virtual photon’ that it might be fitting to use Newton’s own word of ‘fluxions’ or ‘tensors’ to describe the effect.
When an electron emits a ‘real’ photon, the result always ends in resolution, for instance the photon might be absorbed by an electron that is receptive to that particular energy, or its energy might be dispersed through the ‘virtual photon aether’. Similarly electromagnetic radiation in the form of radio-waves always undergoes some kind of resolution, it is either absorbed OR its energy is dispersed in the ‘virtual photon aether’. However the emission of ‘virtual photons’ by electrons give rise to ‘tensors’ or ‘fluxions’ in the photons of the ‘virtual photon aether’ causing them to align, extremely briefly in the direction of propagation, this is ALWAYS an attractive force, there is no resolution instead it will invariably result in a reciprocal release of a virtual photon, so that the attractive fore is always positive, (these transactions never result in repulsion). This is how gravity works according to Gestalt Aaether Theory.
The Gestalt Aether Theory also explains the paradox of how an iron ball and a feather can fall at the same rate in a vacuum. Previously this was thought to be due to a difference in inertial mass, but in actual fact the answer is much simpler than that, if the earth is attracting the iron ball and the feather towards itself, other gravitational forces are pulling it away from the earth in exactly the same proportion of force. Because of the distance involved the effect is as if the iron ball and the feather are being held back by a single force, thus they fall to earth at the same time.