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A Scientist Takes On Gravity

July 17, 2010

A New York Times article “A Scientist Takes On Gravity” by Dennis Overbye, July 12, 2010 presents one of the most complex and intriguing concepts brought forth in recent memory, (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/science/13gravity.html).

If anyone has the opportunity to read the article and understand it, please share your enlightenment.

Excerpts: 

…… what if it’s (gravity) all an illusion, a sort of cosmic frill, or a side effect of something else going on at deeper levels of reality?

So says Erik Verlinde, 48, a respected string theorist and professor of physics at the University of Amsterdam, whose contention that gravity is indeed an illusion ……… 

…… science has been looking at gravity the wrong way and that there is something more basic, from which gravity “emerges,”

 Dr. Verlinde’s argument turns on something you could call the “bad hair day” theory of gravity.

 …… the force we call gravity is simply a byproduct of nature’s propensity to maximize disorder.

 …… Newton was overturned a century ago by Einstein, who explained gravity as warps in the geometry of space-time, and who some theorists think could be overturned in turn by string theorists.

 ……. gravity has been “undressed,”…… of a mysterious connection between black holes and thermodynamics, …… that when quantum effects are taken into account black holes would glow and eventually explode.

 …… given a few of these holographic ideas, Einstein’s equations of general relativity are just a another way of stating the laws of thermodynamics.

 Black holes, in effect, are holograms — like the 3-D images you see on bank cards.

 …… the information about what has been lost inside them is encoded on their surfaces.

 …… how this “holographic principle” — that we are all maybe just shadows on a distant wall — applies to the universe and where it came from.

 In one striking example of a holographic universe, ……  constructed a mathematical model of a “soup can” universe, where what happened inside the can, including gravity, is encoded in the label on the outside of the can, where there was no gravity, as well as one less spatial dimension. If dimensions don’t matter and gravity doesn’t matter, how real can they be?

 “Gravity,” ……  “is the thermodynamic limit of the statistical mechanics of “atoms of space-time.”

 Think of the universe as a box of scrabble letters. There is only one way to have the letters arranged to spell out the Gettysburg Address, but an astronomical number of ways to have them spell nonsense. Shake the box and it will tend toward nonsense, disorder will increase and information will be lost as the letters shuffle toward their most probable configurations. Could this be gravity?

 “We’ve known for a long time gravity doesn’t exist,” Dr. Verlinde said, “It’s time to yell it.”

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