There are certain truths that dictate the way we view the world. The earth is round. It rotates around the sun. The sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening. Gravity keeps us firmly on the ground. Or does it? Last week the New York Times published this fascinating article - “A scientist takes on gravity.” We asked our physics tutors to comment and got three just as fascinating articles back. Tell us what you think!
Gravity has always been the number one topic in physics from the beginning itself. We all have in mind the great genius Albert Einstein. In 1915 Albert Einstein himself changed the way the world was looking at gravity and he wasn’t believed either. But ultimately the experiments showed that Einstein was right.
In this case, we are talking about gravity as an entropic force. Entropy was one of the most interesting topics in physics since it talks about equilibrium, the concept that everything should be going towards a certain distribution both in space and in velocities. When we look at it this way, we may better understand the concept of gravity, philosophically speaking.
However, we must keep in mind that this is not necessarily the correct view. A lot of things have been thought throughout the ages, and many of them were not correct. But that is what science is about – trying things and making mistakes. There is no way that mankind can always be right, but many mistakes helped other people to find the correct explanation. It is in this sense that I find the words of Erik Verlinde of great value.
Although the idea of non-existent gravity has also been proposed by Einstein who claimed that it was due to geometric deformations, this is truly a new point of view. This is becauseit goes one step further in unification theory, the idea that everything in the universe can be explained with a single theory. Now we find in the words of Verlinde, this step that physics needed.
One final word is needed now and that is about the education received by these scientists. This revolutionary idea of Verlinde is not easily achieved. One must have a great understanding of both gravity and physics in general. And in order to understand physics in this way, you must receive a very good and very broad education. It is the duty of every teacher, professor, and tutor to provide this education that makes scientists that understand things better.
My humble congratulations go to Eric Verlinde who could give all physicists in general the open mindedness needed to be really good scientists. Although he could be wrong nobody could take away from him the fact that he did something new and that is what matters.
Pablo A. has been with Tutor.com since 2009 and tutors physics. Read more comments on this New York Times article by other Tutor.com tutors.