Nature is quirky. Whenever things don't quite match up, She changes them so they will. The results often seem to be bizarre and nonsensical, but the more you study it you realize how profoundly wise Nature is. It all started with a thought experiment that Einstein said he came up with at around the age of 16. The young Einstein wondered what would happen if he chased a light beam and caught up with it. This essay describes two of the most important discoveries in science: The Special Theory of Relativity and the General Theory of Relativity. Both of these discoveries were made by a single man, Albert Einstein, over a period of one decade (1905 – 1915). This essay is directed at an audience of amateur scientists like myself. I will approach these two theories on the basis of their underlying principles, deriving as much as possible using basic geometry and a bit of elementary calculus. I will not go into the depth needed to become a “relativist.” Mastery of general relativity would require a good working knowledge of tensors, which is beyond the scope of this essay. Nevertheless, I think amateur scientists like myself will get something useful out of it.

© All Rights Reserved

56 tayangan

Nature is quirky. Whenever things don't quite match up, She changes them so they will. The results often seem to be bizarre and nonsensical, but the more you study it you realize how profoundly wise Nature is. It all started with a thought experiment that Einstein said he came up with at around the age of 16. The young Einstein wondered what would happen if he chased a light beam and caught up with it. This essay describes two of the most important discoveries in science: The Special Theory of Relativity and the General Theory of Relativity. Both of these discoveries were made by a single man, Albert Einstein, over a period of one decade (1905 – 1915). This essay is directed at an audience of amateur scientists like myself. I will approach these two theories on the basis of their underlying principles, deriving as much as possible using basic geometry and a bit of elementary calculus. I will not go into the depth needed to become a “relativist.” Mastery of general relativity would require a good working knowledge of tensors, which is beyond the scope of this essay. Nevertheless, I think amateur scientists like myself will get something useful out of it.

© All Rights Reserved

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by John Winders

Note to my readers:

You can access and download this essay and my other essays through the Amateur

Scientist Essays website under Direct Downloads at the following URL:

https://sites.google.com/site/amateurscientistessays/

You are free to download and share all of my essays without any restrictions, although it

would be very nice to credit my work when quoting directly from them.

This essay describes two of the most important discoveries in science: The Special Theory of

Relativity and the General Theory of Relativity. Both of these discoveries were made by a single man,

Albert Einstein, over a period of one decade (1905 1915).

This essay is directed at an audience of amateur scientists like myself. I will approach these two

theories on the basis of their underlying principles, deriving as much as possible using basic geometry

and a bit of elementary calculus. I will not go into the depth needed to become a relativist. Mastery

of general relativity would require a good working knowledge of tensors, which I lack.1 Nevertheless, I

think amateur scientists like myself will get something useful out of it, so let's get started.

___________________

Nature is quirky. Whenever things don't quite match up, She changes them so they will. The results

often seem to be bizarre and nonsensical, but the more you study it you realize how profoundly wise

Nature is. It all started with a thought experiment that Einstein said he came up with at around the age

of 16. The young Einstein wondered what would happen if he chased a light beam and caught up with

it. A light beam is electromagnetic, consisting of two waves propagating in space, a magnetic wave and

an electrical wave. The most intuitive answer to Einstein's question is that the light would freeze so

that the two components would just hang in space. Maxwell's equations describe the propagation of

electromagnetism through space. The funny thing about those equations is that the speed of

propagation in a vacuum is a constant c = 1/0 0, where 0 and 0 are the permeability and

permittivity of free space, respectively. But c does not refer to any particular fixed reference frame, so

light could never freeze. Unlike sound or ocean waves, which travel at a constant speed with respect

to some material medium, light travels at a constant speed in any reference frame, period.

This simple conclusion is the basis of the Special Theory of Relativity, which Einstein published in

1905. Even if there is no fixed reference frame for light, there still must be a way to measure the

motion of any object using a metric that produces the same numerical result for all observers when they

are in relative motion to each other. Einstein examined the special case where all observers and the

object being measured were moving in uniform motion relative to one another, which is why it is called

the special theory of relativity. Einstein himself preferred calling it the theory of invariance.

The metric Einstein came up with is: s2 = c2 t2 x2 y2 z2

A change s defines distance in space-time, which is invariant for all observers. For example, suppose

we observe an object moving with constant velocity relative to us, starting from a point (x1, y1, z1) and

ending at a point (x2, y2, z2). If t is the time it takes to travel that distance, we compute the distance it

traveled through space-time as:

s = c2 t2 (x2 x1)2 (y2 y1)2 (z2 z1)2

Now the $64,000 question is what do we use to measure space and time in this instance? The answer is

that each observer uses his own measuring rod for distance and his own clock for time. It's that simple.

Now suppose you're sitting in your easy chair and not going anywhere. How fast are you traveling in

space-time? The obvious answer is that you're not traveling at all, but that would be wrong. It's true

that you're not traveling along any distance, but look at your watch. Is it moving? If so, then you're

moving through space-time. For each observer in the universe, his/her own space-time travel is

1 It's comforting to note that as brilliant as Einstein was, he still needed help with expressing the principle of general

relativity in mathematical form. The great mathematician David Hilbert was on hand to provide the help he needed.

-1-

measured simply by using a clock, because (x2 x1)2 (y2 y1)2 (z2 z1)2 = 0.

s = c t light-seconds

In other words, everything in the universe is traveling through space-time at the speed of light,

regardless of how fast they are moving relative to each other!2 That's the special theory of relativity in

a nutshell. Now let's see how this works out in practice.

Suppose Alice marks off a starting point and ending point 0.866 light-seconds apart. Bob, her trusty

partner is attached to a rocket sled that accelerates him to 0.866 times the speed of light as he crosses

the starting point. Alice measures the time it takes him to reach the ending point traveling at that

velocity using a stop watch: t = 0.866 light-seconds / 0.866c = 1.0 second. She computes Bob's

travel through space-time as follows:

s = c 1.02 0.8662 = 0.5 light-second

Bob also measured his own space-time travel using his own stop watch. What do you think it will

read? That's right, it will read 0.5 seconds. How can that be? Well, Nature had to glitch space and

time a bit to make Alice's reality match Bob's. Alice and Bob both agree that Bob's speed relative to

Alice and Alice's speed relative to Bob are both 0.866c. However, they clearly don't agree on the time

it took Bob to travel between the two markers. So Nature had to fix that disagreement by reducing the

distance between the markers as seen by Bob. By moving the markers closer together, say 0.433 light-

seconds apart, Bob only takes 0.5 seconds to travel between them at a velocity 0.866c. You see,

whenever Nature is faced with a paradox, She'll just rearrange things in this case She did it to both

space and time in order to make things work out okay.

The slowing down of time shown on Bob's watch (as seen by Alice) and the shortening of the distance

traveled (as seen by Bob) are both computed using a factor symbolized by the Greek letter gamma ():

= 1/1 v2/c2, where v = the velocity Bob relative to Alice (and vice versa).

t' = t

d' = d /

But there is one more item Nature must tinker with in order to preserve her integrity: Mass. To get an

object moving relative to another object requires energy. When a 0.50 caliber bullet is fired from a

high-powered rifle, we can easily observe that it has lots of energy.3 That energy equals mv2.

However, if we chase after that bullet and catch up to it, we find that all its energy has disappeared. So

the energy an object possesses is relative to an observer and not absolute. Now you might think that

you can make a bullet travel as fast as you want simply by using more gunpowder and putting more

energy into it. But you can't, because turns into an imaginary number as soon as v > c, which is

definitely no good.4 So how can you put unlimited amounts of energy into a bullet, while still

maintaining its velocity (relative to you) below the speed of light? Well, Nature came up with a clever

solution: She makes the bullet heavier (relative to you) when you try to make it go faster. Eventually,

She makes the bullet so heavy that you simply cannot make it go any faster. Her trick is to apply the

factor to the rest mass, m0: m = m0. That way, anybody can add as much energy as they want to the

bullet, but its velocity relative to them will never be greater than c.

2 There is one important exception to that rule, which will be revealed shortly.

3 If you don't believe it, try standing in front of a high-speed 0.50 caliber bullet.

4 Nature definitely frowns on imaginary quantities.

-2-

This leads to an important result: Putting energy into an object increases its mass relative to whoever is

supplying the energy, so mass and energy are equivalent. If two things are equivalent, it means there is

a proportionality constant between them, and the proportionality constant between mass and energy

turns out to be c2. In other words, e = mc2, which is the final piece of the special-relativity puzzle.

Footnote 2 on the previous page mentioned that there is one exception to the principle that everything

in the universe travels through space-time at the speed of light. That exception is light itself. If you

compute s for a particle of light, you'll find that s always equals zero no matter which direction it

travels through space. Light is motionless in space-time. That kind of makes sense because if

everything is moving through space-time at the speed of light except light itself, then everything must

be traveling at the speed of light relative to light, which is exactly what is expressed by Maxwell's

equations and what Einstein discovered when he tried to chase a light beam in his imagination.

The fact that motions are relative means that two observers in relative motion see each other's clocks

slow down by the same factor , which leads to an apparent contradiction known as the Twins Paradox.

I must point out at this juncture that the Twins Paradox is almost always presented incorrectly in the

literature. The usual description goes something like this:

Alice and Bob are twins. Bob is an astronaut who goes on a journey to a distant Planet X, while Alice

remains earthbound. Bob blasts off in a rocket ship and accelerates to nearly the speed of light toward

Planet X. When Bob nears Planet X, he turns the ship around and fires off his rocket motors,

decelerating to a stop and then accelerating to nearly the speed of light toward Earth. When Bob finally

reaches Earth, he turns his ship around again and fires off his rocket motors one final time to decelerate

and land. His twin sister Alice is there to greet him, but whereas Bob is still a spry young astronaut, he

discovers to his horror that his sister has turned into an old hag. How can that be? If their relative

velocities were equal, why didn't Alice's aging slow down just like Bob's?

At this point, most authors use a lot of hand-waving to describe what is taking place with Alice and

Bob within the context of special relativity. The problem is that you cannot use special relativity to

explain what is happening to Bob and Alice when Bob is accelerating and decelerating like mad.

Special relativity only applies to uniform motion, which is why it's special. If you want to use

special relativity to describe The Twins Paradox, you can only have uniform motion no acceleration

or deceleration is allowed.

The diagram on the following page is the correct version of the Twins Paradox using special relativity.

It requires a second astronaut, whom we will call Charlene. In this scenario, Planet X and Earth are

stationary with respect to each other and are 8.66 light-years apart. Bob happens to be whizzing by

Earth toward Planet X at a speed of 0.866c. As he passes by Earth, he communicates with Alice and

synchronizes his clock with hers. It is 12:00:01 am on January 1, 2017. He then coasts toward Planet

X at a constant speed of 0.866c. As he approaches Planet X, Bob observes Charlene heading in the

opposite direction toward Earth. She is also traveling at a constant speed of 0.866c relative to Earth

and Planet X.5 Bob communicates with Charlene and tells her to synchronize her clock with his, which

was previously synchronized with earthbound Alice's clock. Charlene obliges and according to Bob, it

is January 1, 2022. Bob continues on his way, and he can do whatever he likes from then on. Charlene

continues on her journey to Earth, which is still separated by 8.66 light-years from Planet X. As

Charlene whizzes by Earth, she communicates with Alice and compares her clock with Alice's.

According to Charlene it is January 1, 2027, but according to Alice it is January 1, 2037. Alice

apparently had aged ten more years than Bob and Charlene.

5 It so happens that Bob's and Charlene's speed relative to each other is 0.99c, but that's neither here nor there.

-3-

I think you will see that there really is no paradox at all, and this can easily be explained using special

relativity without the usual hand-waving needed to explain away Bob's acceleration.

The key is that the distance between Earth and Planet X are only 4.33 light-years apart in Bob's and

Charlene's reference frames. From Alice's perspective, it takes Bob ten years to reach Planet X and it

takes Charlene ten years to reach Earth. But from Bob's and Charlene's perspectives, each of their

journeys only take five years. Nature had to reduce the distance between Earth and Planet X for both

Bob and Charlene in order to slow down Alice's clock with respect to them. The distances that Bob and

Charlene traveled through space-time are the same for everybody.

That completes the part of the essay that derives the special theory of relativity, but there are a couple

of concluding remarks I want to add.

-4-

Before Einstein published the results of his theory of invariance, a.k.a. special relativity,

scientists believed that since light is a vibrating wave, it needs a medium to vibrate. They

proposed this medium was comprised of a substance they called ther (pronounced ee-ther).6 If

that were true, the speed of light would vary depending on an observer's velocity through the

ther. Since the Earth revolves around the Sun, its relative motion with respect to the ther

should vary seasonally, and they should be able to measure this variation. In 1887, two

scientists, Albert Michelson and Edward Morley, set up a sensitive device called an

interferometer that was designed specifically to measure the Earth's drift through the ther.

Repeated attempts failed to uncover any drift at all. Various theories were put forward to

explain this lack of success, including one that proposed that objects somehow become shorter

by the factor in the direction of the ther drift. Amazingly, after Einstein published his

landmark theory in 1905, he stated that he had never heard of the Michelson-Morley

experiment, even though his special theory of relativity explained its results perfectly!7

I think some people refer to space-time as a four-dimensional space-time continuum because

they are trying to impress other people by using more words than are necessary. The problem

with using that term is it implies that time is just another ordinary spatial dimension, so we tend

to represent the universe as some sort of four-dimensional Euclidean object. The geometry of

space-time is not Euclidean. You can certainly map points in space-time onto points on a sheet

of paper, but the resulting diagram on paper does not represent any physical object. Distances

in space-time are based on taking the difference between c2 t2 and (x2 + y2 + z2) and not

the sum of the squares of all four dimensions, as would be the case if space-time really were

Euclidean. Thus, whenever someone (most often a cosmologist) shows you some sort of

diagram or artist's rendition of the universe, be rest assured those pictures are wrong.

Because light doesn't move through space-time, s = 0 leads directly to the following equation:

c t2 = x2 + y2 + z2. This is nothing other than the equation of a spherical wave front

expanding at a constant speed, c. In other words, it's the equation of light propagating through

space. If we chop off one of the dimensions, we get an expanding circle. By plotting

expanding circles along a time axis in both the positive and negative directions, we get a pair of

expanding cones.

Now we're ready to proceed with a much trickier proposition: What happens when objects accelerate.

For that we need to dive head-first into the general theory of relativity (GR).

___________________

Einstein said that one of his happiest moments was when he watched a man fall off a ladder. At that

moment he realized that the poor guy didn't feel a thing (until he hit the ground). Actually, I don't think

he really saw a guy fall of a ladder; instead, he imagined what it would be like to be in free fall near the

Earth and he realized it would be the same as being in a place that had zero gravity. Somehow,

accelerating toward the Earth canceled the force of gravity.

If you put a charged object in an electric field, it will accelerate in the direction of the field, and an

accelerometer attached to that object will register an acceleration. But if you put a mass in a

gravitational field, it will still accelerate, but an accelerometer won't register anything. This led

6 Although pronounced the same, this substance is not the same as ether that puts people to sleep.

7 I guess that shows what happens when you don't have the Internet.

-5-

Einstein to conclude that gravity wasn't a force after all because objects in free fall don't feel it. But

if gravity isn't a force, then what is it? Einstein concluded that gravity is equivalent to acceleration.

This brilliant insight started Einstein on a ten-year quest to form a new theory of gravity based entirely

on objects moving through an altered geometry of space-time.8 In order to do this, he employed

multidimensional mathematical objects known as tensors, which express sets of linked differential

equations that have to be solved together simultaneously. Tensors are way, way, way beyond my

limited mathematical abilities, so I must completely gloss over them.9 But there is still a lot about GR

that we can grasp using simple math based on a few underlying principles.

Suppose Bob is standing on the surface of a planet that has an ultra-strong gravitational field. High up

in a balloon is his assistant Alice. Bob sends a signal to Alice using a laser pointer, but when the signal

reaches her, she notices that the frequency of the light has shifted downward. It's as if time on the

surface is slow. Using a pair of binoculars, Alice observes Bob on the surface of the planet and notices

that everything in Bob's vicinity has indeed slowed down. How can we explain this?

If Bob were communicating with Alice by shooting marbles at her, the marbles would have to lose

kinetic energy as they travel upward against gravity, which they manage to do by slowing down. But

since Bob is communicating using light, the light can only lose energy by slowing down its frequency

since it must travel at the speed of light. A light packet a photon has an energy ep = f, where is

Planck's constant and f is the light's frequency. This energy is equivalent to mass, per SR:

mp = ep / c2 = f / c2

As the light packet ascends in the positive y-direction through a gravitational field g(y), it loses energy:

dep = g(y) mp dy = g(y) (f / c2) dy = df

df / f = g(y) dy / c2

Solving the simple differential equation above is easy:

0 g(y) / c2 dy}

y

f (y) = f (0) exp{

As the observer Alice increases her height above Bob, the frequency of Bob's laser signal decreases

exponentially. Bob is at the bottom of a so-called gravity well, and not only does Bob's laser slow

down, but everything else in Bob's world slows down relative to Alice's world.

So by introducing gravity into the picture, Nature apparently decided that She had to tinker with time.

It would seem logical that Nature would tinker with space as well, and that's quite true. However, the

exact formula She uses for that isn't so easy to determine. If it were easy, Einstein wouldn't have spent

ten years of his life struggling to find out what it is. But we can still approach the problem in sort of an

intuitive way, also relying on the information we gleaned from special relativity.

Free falling in a gravitational field is exactly equivalent to floating in space without gravity. Also,

standing still in a gravitational field is exactly equivalent to accelerating in space without gravity. Now

suppose Bob were in an enclosed room where he couldn't tell if he were standing on a planet with

gravity or accelerating in space. There is a laser pointer attached to one of the walls of the room that is

8 At this point I must stress that I believe that while space-time is a convenient frame of reference, it isn't an actual

physical thing. Of course, I could be wrong.

9 I'm going to use the excuse that tensors are for nerds.

-6-

aimed at the opposite wall. When the room is free-floating without any gravitational force, the light

beam hits a certain spot on the wall, but while the room is sitting on the planet, Bob notices that the

beam hits the wall slightly below that spot. He suspects the laser's aim may be a little off, so decides to

fill the room with smoke and trace the beam's path. To his amazement, the beam curves (!), but light

ain't supposed to curve. Then Bob realizes he's either sitting in a gravitational field or the room he's

sitting in is accelerating in empty space. If he were shooting marbles across the room, the marbles

would trace out parabola-shaped paths in either case. Similarly, the light should trace a path that

approximates a parabola in an accelerating room or when sitting in a gravitational field.10

Would Alice also notice the light path bending near the planet? You betcha. There's no way that

Nature could hide such a glaring anomaly from Alice, although She may have to tweak the exact shape

of the path a little before revealing it to Alice.

What would happen if Bob were free falling toward the planet? Would he see light bend then? The

answer is no. A free-falling Bob would not feel any effect from gravity, so as far as he's concerned he

could be a billion miles away from any planet. The light just traces a perfectly straight line and hits the

original spot on the opposite wall, with a constant horizontal velocity. This brings up an interesting

question about Bob's free fall. If the gravitational field were constant and the light path were an exact

parabola with a constant horizontal velocity, then a constant downward acceleration could straighten

out the curved path from Bob's perspective, in compliance with Newtonian physics. But the light's

horizontal velocity is changing, so in order to straighten the light path and restore a constant horizontal

velocity, Bob's free-fall acceleration is not quite constant in a uniform gravitational field. This example

illustrates why the math of GR is so difficult. In Newton's world, you never have to worry about

details like making sure the velocity of light is always constant. In Einstein's world you do.

In summary, an observer looking at another frame of reference where gravity is present would see time

slowing down and light curving. If you could trace a particle of light as it passes near the Sun, you

would definitely see it curving and slowing down. Although all observers must measure the same

speed of light in their own frames of reference, they can observe light traveling at different speeds in

other frames of reference. The Shapiro time delay is a case in point. When a radar signal is bounced

off Mars or Venus and the signal's path almost grazes the Sun, there is an additional time delay

10 The fact that light traces out a curve that approximates a parabola is important. The horizontal velocity of the marbles

is constant, which is why they trace out a parabola. On the other hand, the horizontal velocity of light cannot be

constant, because the total velocity, combining horizontal and vertical velocities, must equal c. Thus, the horizontal

velocity decreases as the vertical velocity increases, so the curve bends a little more than a parabola. This is one of the

ways GR differs from Newtonian physics.

-7-

compared to radar signals that don't pass close to the Sun. The only explanation for this is that light

slows down in the vicinity of the Sun, which means time itself slows down relative to a distant observer

due to the Sun's gravity.

The important thing to remember is that even though light paths bend in space, light travels in perfectly

straight lines through space-time. In fact any object not being pushed or pulled by any forces (besides

gravity) travels in perfectly straight lines through space-time. Those lines are called a geodesics, and in

space-time, they're the longest possible paths, whereas in normal space, geodesics are the shortest

possible paths. Remember how an observer measures his or her own travel in space-time? Yes, by

using a clock. So the longest possible space-time path for an observer is the path that maximizes the

elapsed time on the observer's own clock. This invokes a very important principle of physics: The

principle of least action, which we'll delve into a little later.

But next, we need to revisit the Twins Paradox. This time, we're letting Bob accelerate.

In this version, Bob blasts off from Earth at a constant acceleration headed toward Planet X. Because

of the equivalency between gravity and acceleration, Bob might think the entire universe is immersed

in a giant gravitational field (marked with the green arrows in the diagram above) pulling the Earth,

Alice, and Planet X in a direction behind his rocket ship. In that case, Bob would find himself at the

bottom of a huge gravity well, making a clock on Planet X (shown in blue) speed up relative to Bob.

Alice is a little farther down in that gravity well, so her clock (shown in red) slows down relative to

Bob. But the cumulative effects of speeding up or slowing down build up exponentially over distance,

so whereas Alice's clock slows down a little, the clock on Planet X speeds up a lot.

When Bob reverses direction at Planet X, he again finds himself at the bottom of another huge gravity

well with Alice far, far away at the top of it. This makes her clock (in blue) speed up a lot relative to

Bob. The combined effects of both gravity wells cause Alice to age much faster than Bob over the

-8-

course of his trip, although the results are not even close to those you'd get from special relativity. Of

course, the time-dilation and distance-dilation effects from Bob's motion relative to Alice la special

relativity must be added to the effects of Bob's acceleration, but it would be nearly impossible to

account for both sets of effects without diving into a full-blown GR analysis, which I'm not going to do.

I can assure you that the results of a GR calculation would be far different than the simple case of

special relativity.

The principle of least action is revealed in many different areas of physics, including optics, mechanics,

and relativity. In optics, refraction is explained as light taking the shortest optical path, thereby

minimizing action. Newtonian physics, the trajectory of an object in a gravitational field is the path that

minimizes action integrated over time. Here, action is defined as an object's instantaneous kinetic

energy minus its instantaneous gravitational potential energy. In order to minimize action over time,

kinetic energy should be kept to the smallest possible value, thereby maximizing the potential energy.

The resulting path will depend on the details of how action is computed. Computing kinetic energy is

straightforward; ek = mv2. The simplest way to compute gravitational potential energy is ep = mgh,

which assumes the gravitational acceleration, g, is constant with respect to the height, h, above the

Earth's surface. Minimizing (ek ep) integrated over time requires a rather difficult technique

minimizing something called the Lagrangian. The resulting trajectory is a parabola no surprise.

We can refine the computation of gravitational potential energy by using ep = mMG / r, where M is

the Earth's mass, G is the gravitational constant and r is the distance between the object and the center

of the Earth. Minimizing (ek ep) integrated over time then results in a elliptical orbit around the

Earth's center again no surprise. Over short distances, a parabola very closely approximates an

ellipse near its vertex. Within the confines of a baseball stadium, a simple parabola is accurate enough

to describe the flight of a baseball, but it's not nearly accurate enough for traveling to he Moon.

We saw how Newtonian physics deviates slightly from GR in computing the path of light near a

gravitating planet. GR has its own definition for the gravitational component of action, called the

Einstein-Hilbert action:11

S = 1/2 R - g d4x

This is a fairly innocent-looking expression, but be warned that we're now dealing with four-

dimensional objects12 and the d4x means the integral has to be solved four separate times in four

dimensions over the whole of space-time. After you finish all the horrendous math required to solve

this thing, you get something that's tantalizingly close to an elliptical orbit derived from Newton's laws,

with a small difference. It turns out that Mercury's orbit around the Sun is highly elliptical, and the

perihelion of its orbit shifts forward over time. The measured shift is 43 seconds of arc per century

greater than Newton's laws predict, and that small discrepancy had puzzled astronomers for a very long

time. When Einstein ran the numbers for Mercury's orbit using GR, he found the shift matched the

astrological measurements to a tee. Eureka! Einstein knew then he was on the right track.13

But duplicating existing measurements of the precession of the perihelion of Mercury's orbit wasn't

enough to propel Einstein into fame and celebrity. The general theory of relativity needed to make a

falsifiable prediction involving something that had never been accurately measured before: The

bending of light near the Sun. That confirmation would happen during the May 1919 solar eclipse.

11 It is said that Hilbert came up with this alone, but he graciously allowed Einstein to share the credit with him.

12 R is the Ricci scalar and g is the determinate of the metric tensor matrix (as if I know what those are).

13 Einstein recalled that when he made this discovery, he was so excited he couldn't sleep that night.

-9-

Appendix A Chasing Moonshadows

One of the nice things about the Moon is that its apparent size is almost equal to the Sun's apparent size

as seen from Earth's surface. So about two times every year, the Moon totally blocks out the Sun

somewhere on Earth. During these events, called total solar eclipses, the shadow of the Moon passes

over the Earth from west to east,14 turning day into night on the surface. Stars that would ordinarily be

blotted out by the glare of the Sun and a blue sky then become visible. So an eclipse would be a great

opportunity to test out Einstein's prediction from GR that light paths are bent toward the Sun by the

Sun's gravity.15

Having taken a 2-year breather after publishing his special theory of relativity, Einstein began working

on GR in 1907. He published an interim version of GR in a paper entitled On the Influence of

Gravitation on the Propagation of Light, appearing in Annalen der Physik in June, 1911. In this

version of GR, he recognized that time slows down in a gravitational field, so the speed of light in one

reference frame doesn't equal c when observed from a different gravitational reference frame. Using

that information and the mass/energy equivalency from special relativity, he predicted the image of a

star near the limb of the Sun would appear to shift toward the Sun's center with respect to images of

stars farther away from the Sun. His formula for the angle of the path's deflection is given below.

= 2GM / c2, where M is the mass of the Sun and is the distance from the center to the path

The number worked out to be 0.85 seconds of arc, denoted as 0.85''. This is an incredibly small angle,

but a German astronomer named Erwin Finlay-Freundlich thought he could detect it. Freundlich was

an associate and a great admirer of Einstein, and he believed wholeheartedly that gravity bends light.16

So he set about organizing an expedition to observe the August 21, 1914 solar eclipse and measure the

deflection of the images of stars near the Sun. That particular eclipse traversed the following countries

(in chronological order): Greenland, Norway, Sweden, [Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine, which

were all part of Russia in 1914], [Turkey and Iraq, which were part of the Ottoman Empire in 1914],

Iran, which was called Persia in 1914, and Pakistan, which was part of India in 1914.

It turned out that Freundlich's expedition was star-crossed.17 He decided that a place called Feodoriya

on the Crimean Peninsula would offer the best possibility for making his observations. As fate would

have it, World War I broke out in July, 1914 while he was in Crimea setting up his experiments.

Crimea belonged to Russia, and Germany and Russia were now enemies. Being a German citizen,

Freundlich was detained and interred there for a little while before being allowed to return to Germany.

Tragically, the Russians wouldn't allow him to carry out his experiments, so he missed out on the 1914

eclipse completely.18

There was a silver lining around that particular cloud, however. The angle of deflection that Einstein

had predicted in his 1911 paper, 0.85'', was way off. Had Freundlich been able to do his experiments

with a high degree of accuracy, his measurements would have contradicted Einstein bigly. What would

14 The Moon's shadow moves more than 1,000 mph over the surface, so a supersonic jet might be able to keep up with it.

15 Nowadays, scientists can create an artificial solar eclipse by putting a camera into space and blocking out the Sun's

image with an opaque circular disk.

16 Actually, Newton believed it too. He thought that light consisted of tiny particles called corpuscles, which traveled

really fast. So since gravity attracted everything else, why not light corpuscles too? Ironically, the angle of deflection

using Newton's laws worked out to be the same number as predicted in Einstein's 1911 paper.

17 Pun intended.

18 My research couldn't determine if the Sun was even shining on Feodoriya on August 21, 1914.

- 10 -

have happened to Einstein then? Would he have given up working on GR and settled for a long, boring

career at the Swiss Patent Office? This is one of those interesting questions that historians like to

debate, like what if Robert E. Lee had defeated Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of Gettysburg, or what if

Germany had perfected the atomic bomb in early 1944? Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good,

and it turned out that Einstein was lucky enough to be given a second chance.

While the War to End All Wars was still raging across Europe in November, 1915, Einstein submitted

four papers to the Prussian Academy:

1. Fundamental Ideas of the General Theory of Relativity and the Application of the Theory in

Astronomy

2. On the General Theory of Relativity

3. Explanation of the Perihelion Motion of Mercury from the General Theory of Relativity

4. The Field Equations of Gravitation

The first paper cleared up some of the misconceptions in the 1911 paper, but the second paper

contained a glaring error. The final and correct version of GR was found in the fourth paper. The later

version of GR raised the predicted angle of deflection of starlight near the Sun to 1.75'', making it

somewhat easier to detect during a solar eclipse.

Sir Arthur Eddington, a British astronomer extraordinaire, was very impressed by Einstein's new theory

and he considered himself as being one of very few experts who understood it.19 After WWI formally

ended on November 11, 1918, European scientists, who were former enemies, could then freely

collaborate on their work. Plans were made to confirm the 1.75'' gravitational deflection predicted by

Einstein during an upcoming solar eclipse on May 29, 1919. Nobody was taking any chances on the

weather, so there were two expeditions one led by Eddington on the island of Principe off the coast of

Africa, and the other in Brazil led by Sir Frank Watson Dyson.

On Principe, Eddington used the fairly bright Hyades Cluster for his experiment. A lovely photograph

of the cluster is shown below.

The weather turned out to be ideal in both locations. Eddington and Dyson snapped photographs of

stars close to the edge of the Sun, and then returned to England to analyze them. Eddington compared

19 Eddington, to put it politely, was full of himself. It is said when a writer complimented him on being one of three

people in the world who understood GR, Eddington paused in silence. The writer said, Don't be modest, Eddington.

Eddington replied, On the contrary. I am trying to think who the third person is.

- 11 -

this eclipse photographs to photographs of the region around the Hyades Cluster taken in January and

February (at night when the Sun was absent). In 1920, Eddington and Dyson co-authored a paper

claiming the angular deflections of stars near the Sun they measured during the 1919 solar eclipse

perfectly matched Einstein's prediction!

To have some idea of how tiny 1.75 seconds of arc is in comparison to the apparent size of the Sun,

look at the three figures below.

The disk in the first figure represents the Sun, which subtends an angle of 0.52 = 1872'' as seen from

the Earth's surface. A deflection of 1.75'' is less than 0.1% of that angle. The small box over the Sun's

edge is blown up 10x in the second figure. The small box over the Sun's edge in the second figure is

blown up 10x again in the third figure. The two tiny red dots shown in the third figure are stars

separated by 1.75'' drawn to scale. Was it really possible for Dyson and Eddington to measure that

small a separation with the kind of accuracy required to distinguish 1.75'' from, say 0.85''?

There's a phenomenon known as annual aberration of light due to the orbital motion of the Earth

relative to distant stars. The Earth revolves at a velocity of 30 km/sec around the Sun. This changes

the relative motion between the Earth and the stars by 30 km/sec every six months, displacing their

apparent positions toward the direction of the Earth's motion. The figure below illustrates this effect

for stars observed during a May 29 solar eclipse versus observed at night in January/February.

The red stars represent true positions, and the blue stars represent apparent positions due to annual

aberration. The maximum annual aberration of a star is on the order of 20''. That's quite a lot

compared to 1.75''. Also, the Earth is rotating on its axis. The Earth's rotation causes an angular shift

called diurnal aberration. So if you're observing a star directly overhead at the equator, your relative

- 12 -

motion with respect to it is different than when you're observing the star when it's closer to the horizon.

Were either of these effects taken into account in Dyson's and Eddington's analysis, or would

everything just come out in the wash because the stars in the general direction of the Hyades Cluster

would all have the same annual and diurnal aberrations? I did some research on that question, but I

couldn't find an answer.

While we're on the topic of aberration, it would be worthwhile to explore where it comes from, in light

of what we learned from special relativity. Think of running through a rain shower. If the rain drops

are falling vertically, the front of your body will be soaked while the back of your body will stay dry.

In your moving frame of reference, it appears that the direction from which the rain is falling has

shifted toward the direction you're running. Similarly, if a star is directly overhead and you run in a

horizontal direction, the light rays falling vertically will appear to shift forward a little. That's the

classical explanation of aberration.

Things get a little more complicated with special relativity, because velocities don't add together the

same way as they add in classical physics. It's one of the consequences of light traveling at the same

speed in the frames of reference of all observers. If a booster stage of a rocket is traveling at 0.8c and

the second stage blasts off at 0.6c relative to the booster, the total velocity is not 0.8c + 0.6c = 1.4c. It's

0.946c instead. Taking relativity into account, let be the angle of the star's true position above or

below the observer's direction of motion, and the star's apparent angle above or below the observer's

direction of motion.

tan () = sin () / [ (cos () + v/c)]

The difference between and is the aberration. You'll remember that =1/1 v2/c2. When v << c,

the formula above still works using = 1.

The visible part of the Sun that's covered by the Moon during a solar eclipse is called the photosphere.

The photosphere is not a solid surface; it's simply a spherical surface from which most of the Sun's

light radiates. The actual Sun extends many miles beyond the photosphere, gradually thinning out

into space. The corona is a super-hot region immediately surrounding the visible disk, which is only

visible on Earth during a solar eclipse due to the blinding brightness of the photosphere. In other

words, the Sun has an atmosphere that extends quite a distance from the visible disk.

Feng Xu published a paper in the April 2002 Solar Physics journal, entitled Light Deflection Near the

Sun's Limb: Refraction by the Solar Atmosphere. The paper's abstract is quite interesting:

Light refraction by the Sun's atmosphere is calculated. As detected from the Earth, the refraction can deflect a light ray

emitted from the Sun's limb by 13 or a starlight ray grazing the solar limb by 26, an effect 15 times larger than the

gravitational deflection.

I couldn't find out anything about Feng's credentials (the Chinese name Feng Xu is about as common as

the English name John Smith), so I cannot offer any opinions about the author's veracity or the validity

of the claims in the paper. But I couldn't find any evidence that Dyson and Eddington even considered

the effect of refraction by the Sun's atmosphere in their conclusions. Were their conclusions published

in their 1920 paper an example of confirmation bias? Did they simply throw away data from their

photographs that didn't match the 1.75'' deflection they were looking for? Were Dyson's and

Eddington's equipments even technically capable of measuring such small a deflection with accuracy

and precision? Who knows, although these questions do make a good conspiracy theory. Fortunately

for Einstein, there have been many other confirmations of his general theory of relativity using much

more modern and precise techniques. So I think his reputation is still quite secure in history.

- 13 -

Appendix B Ms Masa

In the earlier part of this essay, I talked about how the mass of an object increases relative to an

observer when their mutual velocity increases. I said it's Nature's way of storing unlimited amounts of

kinetic energy within an object to avoid raising its speed above c. I'm now going to try and give a

scientific reason why m = m0 and how that leads directly to e = mc2.

The simplest explanation for why m = m0 is to consider transverse motions of objects in a reference

frame that is moving at relativistic velocities relative to an observer. If a mass, m0, moves at a velocity,

u, in the moving reference frame, it results in a momentum, p = m0u in that frame. Here, bold letters

indicate the quantities are vectors, having directions as well as magnitudes. If the moving frame's

velocity is v with respect to an observer and u is in the transverse direction to v, then p is also in the

transverse direction to v. Since the observer sees time slowing down in the moving frame, the

transverse velocity would appear to slow down by the same factor : u' = u / . In order to conserve

transverse momentum, p' measured in the observer's frame must have the same value as p in the

moving frame. In order to do accomplish this, the apparent mass of the object, m, as seen by the

observer must increase by the same factor as u' decreases:

p' = mu' = (m0) (u/) = m0u = p m = m0.

Now we're ready to explore the relationship between m = m0 and e = mc2. There have been many

proofs of e = mc2 given over the years. Einstein presented his famous two blackboard derivation in

1934. I've explored a number of proofs and derivations, but many of them seem a bit hand-wavy to

suit me.20

A very simple derivation involves an approximation to = 1/1 v2/c2 when v<<c. It turns out that

when 1, you can substitute (1 + v2 / 2c2) for . Combining this with the classical definition of kinetic

energy, ek = mv2, we get

m m0 (1 + v2 / 2c2) = m0 + m0v2 / c2 = m0 + ek / c2

ek / c2 (m m0)

In other words, boosting the energy of an object by e increases its apparent mass by approximately

e / c2. That's fine, but Nature frowns on approximations.21 She wants exact derivations that don't

depend on any approximations or hand waving. I found a pretty good exact derivation in a video

produced by Physics Reporter, which you can go to here: Video Tutorial on e=mc^2

The proof uses a bit of calculus as follows.

m = m0 m2 (1 v2/c2) = m02

m2 c2 m2 v2 = m0 c2

Taking the derivative d/dm of both sides of the equation:

2m c2 2m v2 2m2 v dv/dm = 0 (The derivative of the right side = 0 since m0 and c are constants)

20 Somebody actually posted a proof using a radioactive cat traveling at relativistic speeds and emitting gamma rays. I

wonder if it was Schrdinger's cat after accidentally swallowing the radioactive isotope used in the experiment.

21 Actually, this approximation can be resolved by noting that equating kinetic energy to mv2 is itself an approximation

that applies when v << c. Using the relativistic definition of kinetic energy would result in the exact equation e = mc 2.

We'll see how that works out in the next proof.

- 14 -

Multiplying both sides of the above equation by dm and dividing both sides by 2m, we get

c2 dm v2 dm mv dv = 0

c2 dm = v2 dm + mv dv (Equation 1)

Let dW be incremental work done on the mass, m, by a force, F, applied over an incremental distance,

ds, in the direction m is traveling with respect to the observer.

dW = Fds

F = dp/dt = d(mv)/dt = m (dv/dt) + v (dm/dt) (This accounts for changes in both v and m)

dW = m (dv/dt) ds + v (dm/dt) ds

Note that ds/dt is just the instantaneous velocity, v. Substituting that into the above equation, we get

dW = mv dv + v2 dm (Equation 2)

By comparing Equation 2 with Equation 1, it's easy to see dW = c2 dm. Integrating dW and c2 dm, we

get the following.

e m

e m

e e0 = dW = c2 dm = (m m0) c2

0 0

This is the most direct proof I could find for proving e = mc2, beginning with m = m0. It involves

adding energy incrementally to a mass, m, traveling at a relativistic velocity, v, and computing the

resulting change in mass without using any low-velocity approximations or sleights of hand. The trick

was to find the derivative of (m / )2 with respect to m and set it equal to zero.

It seems like the root cause of the apparent mass of an object increasing relative to an observer when

the object is moving relative to that observer can be traced to the fact that relative motion slows down

time in the object's reference frame from the observer's point of view. That brought up an interesting

question in my mind: If gravitation slows down time relative to a distant observer, does gravitation

also increase the apparent mass of an object relative to a distant observer? Or to put it another way,

does acceleration increase the inertial mass of an object? I think that if conservation of momentum

holds and apparent velocity decreases, the answer to both those questions would have to be a

resounding yes. But since inertial mass is the same as gravitational mass, wouldn't an increase in

inertial mass of an object also increase the gravitational field around it? Just thinking about an endless

regression like this makes my head hurt. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a good reference that

gives a definitive answer. Using Internet search engines entering questions like does gravitation

increase mass? mainly generates responses like, Why yes, mass does produce gravity, which is

certainly true, but it's not exactly the answer I was looking for.

I suspect that acceleration affects space in the transverse direction as well as in the direction of

acceleration, so the resulting reduction in transverse momentum may not be proportional to the slowing

down of time. In other words, if there is any increase in inertial mass due to gravity, it may not be

proportional to the slowing down of time and it may have to vary with direction.

I did find a paper Gravity, Not Mass Increases with Velocity by Eli Peter Manor, published in the

August 2015 edition of Journal of Modern Physics. It is found at this link: Eli Peter Manor Paper.

Manor claims that when an object moves in the direction of a gravitational field, its inertia is different

than when it moves in other directions. That's very interesting. I'll keep you posted.

- 15 -

Appendix C QM Meets SR

Scientists complain a lot about the lack of a single theory that unifies quantum mechanics and gravity

through the general theory of relativity. However, there's a very deep and beautiful connection between

special relativity, SR, and quantum mechanics, QM, which we'll explore in this appendix. Suppose a

laser emits green light and is boosted to some relativistic speed, v, as depicted below.

A box is drawn around the laser that defines a moving reference frame traveling at v. Let's see what

goes on inside the box. The laser emits equal amounts of light (quanta) in two directions. For every

quantum heading in the direction of motion of the laser, there is an identical quantum heading in the

opposite direction. Let the wavelength of the laser light equal g. According to quantum mechanics,

the energy of each quantum equals hc / g, where h is the Planck constant. A light quantum also carries

a momentum, p, equal to h / g. After emitting the green quanta, energy exits the reference frame. The

total energy lost is e = 2hc / g. This translates into a reduction in mass using m = e / c2:

m0 = 2h / cg

The change in momentum of the system inside the box is zero, because the two photons are going in

opposite directions and carry off equal amounts of momentum. The speed of the laser, v, remains

unchanged, although reducing its mass will reduce its forward momentum by m0 v.

Now let's look at what a stationary observer outside the box sees. The green light emitted in the

forward direction of travel will leave the box blue-shifted, shortening its wavelength to b. The green

light emitted in the backward direction of travel will leave the box be red-shifted, lengthening its

wavelength to r. The blue and red shifts combine two factors: 1) relativistic time dilation, and 2) the

Doppler shift. Formulas can be derived entirely from classical wave mechanics and Lorentz

transformations used in SR. I won't bother to derive them here, but will simply write them down:

b = g (1 v/c) / (1 + v/c)

r = g (1 + v/c) / (1 v/c)

The total energy exiting the box, e', as seen by the stationary observer is the energy of the blue

quantum plus the energy of the red quantum.

e' = hc / b + hc / r = hc [(1 + v/c) / (1 v/c) + (1 v/c) / (1 + v/c) ] / g = 2 hc / g

e' = e

This is what you would expect; i.e., an observer sees more energy emitted from a moving laser than

from a stationary laser; if a fixed mass increases by a factor when it's in motion, then relative motion

should increase any loss of mass (or energy) by the very same factor. Now comes the fun part.

- 16 -

When we look at the momentum of the light exiting the box, things definitely are not balanced. A blue

light quantum has more momentum than a red light quantum, so there is net change in the momentum

of the moving reference frame as seen by the stationary observer. Specifically,

p = pr pb = h / r h / b = h [(1 v/c) / (1 + v/c) (1 + v/c) / (1 v/c) ] / g = 2 hv / cg

By definition p mv

p = v m + m v

We saw from examining the system from within the moving frame that v = 0, which means that the

relative speed, v, doesn't change in the stationary reference frame either. Therefore, if v = 0, the only

way p can change is to change m.

m= v m' = 2 hv / cg

m = 2h / cg = m0

Here, we derived the change in mass observed from outside the moving reference frame entirely from

the change in momentum, even though the change of momentum measured inside of the moving frame

was zero and there was no change in relative speed! What's so amazing to me is that two seemingly

disconnected theories special relativity and quantum mechanics are so interdependent. There is

nothing in special relativity that relates to light quanta and there is nothing in quantum theory that

relates to Lorentz space contraction and time dilation in moving frames of reference. And yet the two

theories blend and work together seamlessly.

In fact, this scenario is another way to prove e = mc2. The equation m = 2h / cg works even when

v << c and = 1. In this case, 2h / cg = e / c2, so QM can be used to actually prove e = m0c2.

Nature has some pretty neat tricks up Her sleeve.

This analysis works for the general case when a body in motion emits light in all directions. The light

emitted ahead of the moving body is blue-shifted while the light emitted behind the moving body is

red-shifted. For each quantum emitted, there is a corresponding p. Combining all p values together

produces a net negative p, which reduces the mass of a moving body instead of slowing it down.

Comparing the m to the energy emitted, e, reveals e = m0c2 e = m0c2.

- 17 -

Appendix D The Amazing Travels of Johnny Photon

Throughout his life, Einstein wondered exactly what a photon is. Is it a wave? A particle? Both?

Neither? Photons are simply quanta or energy packets that can't be subdivided. As a youth, Einstein's

imagined what it would happen if he caught up to a light wave. Instead of catching up to a light wave,

I'd like to imagine what it would be like to actually become a light wave named Johnny Photon. In the

diagram below, Johnny is sitting in a spaceship at rest relative to 12 stars positioned all around him.

The stars emit green light, which is kind of unusual,22 and are they spaced evenly 30 apart around a

circle. Seven of the stars are labeled 1 through 7. Johnny blasts off toward Star 1 and as his speed

approaches 86.6% of light speed, things change drastically for him, as shown in the figure below.

The directions of all the stars have shifted forward from their true positions relative to Johnny's

motion, with the exception of Star 7, which is still directly behind Johnny. Actually, the term true

22 We don't see green stars in the heavens for a very good reason. Our Sun really isn't a yellow dwarf star as stated in

some astronomy books. It's actually a green dwarf because the spectrum of sunlight has a peak intensity at green

wavelengths. So why doesn't the Sun look green? Because we evolved on Earth, our eyes have completely adapted to

sunlight and interpret its greenish color as white, so red-hot objects look red and blue-hot objects look blue, but all

green-hot objects look white to us.

- 18 -

position is a misnomer: True positions are where things are observed to be, and not where we think

they aught to be based on where we observed them in the past.

The formula that gives the altered positions is the formula for spatial aberration found in Appendix A:

tan () = sin () / [ (cos () + v/c)]

Two other things occur as the spaceship reaches 86.6% of light speed relative to the stars:

1. Light from stars move toward the front of Johnny's spaceship are blue-shifted according to the

relativistic Doppler effect, which also takes into account time dilation from relative motion.

Stars that are still located behind the ship are red-shifted.

2. Distances between the space ship and the stars shrink in the direction of motion due to Lorentz

contractions. This squashes the circle of stars around the spaceship into an ellipse, and squashes

the universe itself into an ellipsoid.

As starlight reflects off the surface of Johnny's spaceship, he detects a definite drag tending to slow

him down. This is due to the fact that blue-shifted photons carry more momentum than red-shifted

ones.23 As these photons bounce off the spaceship, they impart a backward force.

Johnny puts the pedal to the metal and speeds up to 99.999% of light speed. The blue light is first

shifted to purple, then ultraviolet, then X-rays, and finally gamma rays, which penetrate the spaceship

and begin to fry Johnny to a crisp. Everything outside the spaceship has been compressed into a tiny

ultra-blue-shifted cone in front of it, while all the points that were exactly 180 in back of it have

collapsed together into an ever-shortening line, red-shifted into oblivion.

While everything outside the spaceship is shrinking, the ship itself retains its original dimensions, so

Johnny is literally running out of room, and it's becoming impossible to gain more speed. The only

way Johnny can go any faster is by reducing the mass of the spaceship along with everything inside it.

In order to attain the unattainable speed of light, Johnny must shed all of his rest mass and shrink down

to the size of a point. By doing that, he turns into Johnny Photon.24

When this happens the question is, Where's Johnny Photon at? The answer is surprising: He's

literally everywhere in space-time. That's right. Johnny Photon fills the universe, or more correctly the

universe has collapsed around him. Remember earlier when it was revealed that all material objects

travel through space-time at the speed of light, except light itself, which is stuck motionless? Well,

Johnny Photon now finds himself stuck in space-time, and every material object in the universe must

now travel with respect to him. The material objects see different facets of Johnny Photon as they

make their way through space-time. Johnny Photon seems to be absent in certain places, like in a

shadow cast behind a brick wall. That simply means that the probability of finding Johnny Photon

behind the wall has been reduced substantially; Johnny still exists there probabilistically.

23 Standard cosmology insists the cosmic microwave background, CMB, is thermal background radiation having an

apparent temperature of around 2.7K. If the CMB is of a true cosmological nature, any Doppler shift from motion with

respect to the CMB would make the CMB itself a preferred fixed frame of reference, similar to the long-discredited

ther, which a big no-no according to relativity. On the other hand, we would expect to see a Doppler shift due to

motion with respect to a locally-generated CMF; i.e., foreground material radiating microwaves at 2.7K.

24 Actually, Johnny could have saved himself the trouble of using a spaceship to attain light speed and being fried by

gamma rays in the process. He could have simply reduced his rest mass to zero right off the bat, and that would have

boosted him to light speed automatically. According to special relativity, objects with rest mass can never travel at light

speed relative to other such objects, but objects without rest mass must always travel at light speed relative to every

object with mass.

- 19 -

Appendix E The Schwarzschild Effect

Almost immediately after Einstein published his four papers on general relativity in November, 1915,

the physicist/astronomer Karl Schwarzschild found and exact solution to the field equations for a non-

rotating spherical mass of mass M. It come in two versions. The first, and most famous one, is the

exterior Schwarzschild metric, shown below. The interior version will be presented later.

c2 d2 = (1 rs/r) c2 dt2 (1 rs/r)-1 dr2 r2 (d2 + sin2 d2)

The time parameter is the proper time (the time measured on a clock) of an observer near the mass.

Everything to the right of the equal sign are quantities measured by a distant observer, not under the

influence of gravity. The radius r is equal to the circumference along a circle centered over the

spherical mass divided by 2. The reason r is stated that way is because measuring things in a radial

direction is different than measuring them in a tangential direction, which why the metric is expressed

in polar coordinates instead of (x, y, z) coordinates. This is one of the strange things about general

relativity. The angles and are latitude and longitude of a point distance r from the center of the

mass.

You'll notice that M doesn't seem to be found anywhere to be found in the metric. However, the radius

rs, called the Schwarzschild radius, and it is equal to 2 GM / c2, so M is embedded in there after all. If

M is zero, then the exterior Schwarzschild metric reduces to this:

c2 d2 = c2dt2 dr2 r2 (d2 + sin2 d2) = c2d2 = c2dt2 x2 y2 z2

The expression for zero M above should look familiar: It's the metric for empty space we encountered

in special relativity.

As the name implies, the interior Schwarzschild metric describes space-time inside the gravitating

sphere. So if you tunnel through the sphere, you would want to use the interior metric. The underlying

assumption is that the density of the material making up the sphere is constant throughout,25 and the

interior metric is as follows.

2 -1

The radius rg is the outside radius of the gravitating sphere itself. At r = rg, the interior and exterior

metrics become one and the same. If M 0, the interior metric is transformed into the metric for

empty space used in special relativity. For the sake of comparison, let us solve rs / rg for a typical large

gravitating sphere,26 like the Earth.

rg = 6.371 106 m

G = 6.674 10 11 m3 kg 1 sec 2

M = 5.972 1024 kg

c = 300 106 m/sec

rs = 2 GM / c2 = 0.00886 m = 0.349 inch, or about the size of a marble.

25 This can only be approximately true for weak gravity. Density must increase for strong gravity because all substances

are compressible because the speed of sound in incompressible substances is infinite, which we know is impossible.

26 The Earth isn't perfectly spherical, but it's close enough.

- 20 -

The ratio rs / rg = 1.391 10 9, or around one part per billion

So it seems that space-time in and around the Earth is pretty much like empty space far away from

everything for the most part. What about the Sun? Well, the Schwarzschild radius is proportional to

mass, so since the Sun's mass is 332,965 larger than the Earth's, its Schwarzschild radius is greater by

the same factor. This works out to be rs = 2.95 km for the Sun, which is still pretty small compared to

its radius, rg = 695,700 km. The ratio rs / rg = 4.24 10 6, or about four parts per million.

What would happen if you drilled a tunnel through the Sun until you got below 2.95 km from the

center? Besides the fact that you'd be burned to a crisp by the Sun's sweltering core temperature of

27,000,000F, well nothing. According to the interior Schwarzschild metric, there's nothing special

about being inside the Schwarzschild radius, per se. In fact, at the exact center of the Sun (r = 0),

space-time is no different than empty space. Hold that thought for a while, because things get pretty

hairy when r rs for the exterior Schwarzschild metric. Let's go back to the exterior metric now.

Free-falling objects in empty space those not influenced by outside forces besides gravity follow

paths through space-time defined by geodesics. Simply put, a geodesic is the path from point A to

point B that maximizes the proper time, B A. In a way, it's the same thing minimizing the action

or effort to get from A to B. So when you're near a large, gravitating sphere, the shortest path through

space is the one that maximizes the distance through space-time. To calculate the geodesic close to

large non-rotating sphere of mass M, you would try to maximize everything to the right of the equal

sign in the exterior Schwarzschild metric. This turns out to be very difficult in many cases, like when

calculating the orbit of Mercury around the Sun, so I'm only going to show a very limited number of

really simple examples.

For example, let's take the case of a clock suspended motionless over the Sun. That's pretty easy,

because dr2, d2 and d2 are all zero. This reduces the exterior Schwarzschild metric to

c2 d2 = (1 rs/r) c2 dt2 or d = (1 rs/r) dt

In other words, time measured by a clock near the Sun slows down by the factor = (1 rs/r). What

happens to the speed of light near the Sun? Well it also slows down, but in a peculiar way. The

Schwarzschild metric for a light path is found by replacing c2 d2 with a zero. If a light particle travels

only in the radial direction, d2 and d2 are both zero, and the light velocity, vr , is computed below.

0 = (1 rs/r) c2 dt2 (1 rs/r)-1 dr2

vr (dr / dt) = c(1 rs/r) = 2 c

But if light is traveling in a tangential direction to the gravitating body, with dr2 and d2 both set to

zero,

0 = (1 rs/r) c2 dt2 r2 d2

vt r / dt = c (1 rs/r) = c

In other words, light slows down more traveling in a radial direction than traveling in a tangential

direction. Bear in mind the speeds above are measured by a distant observer. The speed of light in any

local reference frame, measured as dr / d or rd / d, will always be c. This speed asymmetry greatly

adds to the difficulty of using the Schwarzschild metric to calculate things like orbital motion.

Earlier in this essay, I raised the question of what happens to space near a gravitating body. We're now

- 21 -

ready to answer that question. Consider Einstein's famous light clock, where light bounces back and

forth between two mirrors. Using this clock, time is measured by counting the number of times a

bundle of light bounces. To a distant observer, time should appear to slow down by the same factor

regardless of which way the mirrors are oriented. Suppose the clock is very far away from the Sun

with the mirrors oriented in the vertical direction, so the light travels at tangential velocities, vt. to the

Sun. If the clock is lowered toward the Sun, time slows down by the factor . But since the speed of

light also slows down by the same factor, the space between the mirrors remains unchanged.

Now suppose the same clock has mirrors oriented in the horizontal direction, so the light travels at

radial velocities, vr. If the clock is lowered toward the Sun, time slows down by the factor , but the

speed of light slows down by the factor 2. Therefore, the distance between the mirrors must shrink by

to compensate for a greater reduction in speed. Distances across space near a gravitating body as

seen by a distant observer become asymmetrical. Objects flatten in the r-direction.

We're now going to use a modified version of the exterior Schwarzschild metric to calculate the

bending of light around the Sun the way Einstein did it back in 1915. He used something called the

weak gravity version, where the asymmetry of space is ignored.

c2 d2 = (1 rs/r) c2 dt2 (1 rs/r)-1 (dx2 + dz2 + dz2)

With (rs/r) << 1 the term (1 rs/r)-1 can be approximated as (1 + rs/r). You can see that by doing the

long division 1 / (1 rs/r) and getting rid of everything after the second term. Since we're dealing with

light, c2 d2 = 0, and the weak gravity metric is reduced to the following.

0 = (1 rs/r) c2 dt2 (1 + rs/r) (dx2 + dy2 + dz2)

(dx2 + dy2 + dz2) = c2 dt2 (1 rs/r) / (1 + rs/r)

Because space is now symmetrical, the speed of light is the same in any direction:

v (dx2 + dy2 + dz2) / dt2 = c (1 rs/r) / (1 + rs/r) 2 c

Einstein assumed light's bending angle would be very small, so if light is traveling in the x-direction at

the point where it grazes the Sun, deviations perpendicular to the path, dy, would also be very small. In

other words, y along the path would be very nearly constant, equal to the Sun's radius, R. The figure

below illustrates this, with changes in the y-direction along the light path greatly exaggerated.

- 22 -

As the light wavefront moves left to right, a speed differential exists in the y-direction.

dv / dy (dr / dy)(dv / dr) (dr / dy)(d / dr)c(1 rs / r ) = (dr / dy)crs / r2

(dr / dy) y / x2 + y2 = R / r

dv / dy Rcrs / r3 = Rcrs / (x2 + R2) 3/2 , substituting the constant R for y

A change in the speed of light in a direction perpendicular to the light's path causes the phenomenon of

refraction to occur, where the direction of the light's path bends by a certain angle toward the direction

where the speed is slower. Over a small interval dx, a positive gradient in speed, dv / dy, causes a

small incremental change in the angle, d, in the negative-y direction.

d (dv / dy ) / c = Rrs dx / (x2 + R2) 3/2

To get the total angle of deflection, integrate d over the interval 0 < x < to the right of the Sun,

then double that angle to account for the interval x < 0 to the left.

= 2Rrs 0 dx / (x2 + R2) 3/2 = 2 (rs / R) { lim (x / x2 + R2) 0 } = 2 rs / R

We saw earlier that rs = 2.95 km for the Sun. If the light from a star just grazes the visible surface of

the Sun at R = 695,700 km, then = 2 rs / R = 0.00000848 in radians. Converting this into an angle in

degrees, = 0.00000848 180 / = 0.0004859. There are 3,600'' of arc per degree, so works out to

be 1.749'', Einstein's famous prediction. It turned out that his initial assumption that y R = constant

over the entire light-bending distance was pretty accurate.

Now lets go back to the question of what happens at r rs for the exterior Schwarzschild metric.

Suppose hypothetically that all the mass of a spherical object could be squashed inside its own

Schwarzschild radius. If that happens, the object becomes hypothetically speaking a black hole.

The spherical surface surrounding M having a radius rs is called an event horizon. The following

statement is repeated over and over in popular science literature.

Nothing, not even light, can escape a black hole.

But there's another truth that's seldom mentioned: Nothing, not even light, can infiltrate a black hole

either. As can be seen from the exterior Schwarzschild metric, several things happen at the event

horizon as seen from the outside: a) time stops, b) light freezes, and c) radial distances shrink to zero.

An object observed from the outside falling toward the event horizon could never actually cross it as

seen from the outside. So if nothing can cross over rs from the outside, 1) how did M cross over rs in

first place, and 2) how can M appear to increase as seen from the outside by additional matter crossing

over rs? The answers to those questions are: 1) it didn't, and 2) it can't.

Event horizons cannot form in the physical universe; true black holes are not physical objects.

General relativity itself provides fundamental reasons why M cannot fit within its own Schwarzschild

radius. I'm not alone in this position; an increasing number of professional scientists are also becoming

convinced of it. The purported existence of black holes have produced some very difficult paradoxes,

and even furious hand-waving by theoretical physicists can't paper over some of the more serious

contradictions. I go into more detail about this in another of my essays, entitled Why There Are No

True Black Holes. You can discover all the reasons by clicking on This Link.

- 23 -

Appendix F The God of Thieves

Mercury, a.k.a. Hermes, is the god of quite a lot of things: financial gain, commerce, eloquence,

poetry, messages, communication, travel, luck, trickery, and thieves. Mercury is also the only metallic

element in a liquid state at room temperature, as well as the innermost planet of the solar system with

the distinction of having the most eccentric elliptical orbit of all the planets.27 One of the things about

Mercury that puzzled astronomers for a long time is the amount of precession of its perihelion, which is

a fancy term for the fact that the major axis of its elliptical orbit slowly rotates around a circle. The

gravitational influences of Venus and the Earth could explain some of that precession, but even after

taking those into account, the precession was just too much by an angle around 43'' per century.28

As you might suspect, general relativity can account for the exact amount of excess precession.

Unfortunately, its derivation is way more difficult than the bending of light described in Appendix E.

Einstein's original 1915 paper on the subject is about as clear as mud, unless you can handle the tensor

terminology, which I can't. Using Einstein's field equations as a starting point is simply not for an

amateur scientist like me. I looked around for simpler explanations, but they're not easy to find.

Fortunately, I was able to locate an excellent one by Doug Sweetser, called 24 Steps to the Precession

of the Perihelion of Mercury. Sweetser gives a complete derivation using the exterior Schwarzschild

metric and some calculus, but his 24 steps are a bit tedious, so I'm going to summarize and condense

them in a manner I hope won't be too confusing or boring for my fellow amateur scientists.

We start out with the exterior Schwarzschild metric.

c2 d2 = (1 rs/r) c2 dt2 (1 rs/r)-1 dr2 r2 (d2 + sin2 d2)

Since we're dealing with elliptical orbits, we'll need an r term and at least one angle term, so let's pick

the angle . Setting d2 = 0 reduces the ESM to four terms below.

c2 d2 = (1 rs/r) c2 dt2 (1 rs/r)1 dr2 r2 d2

Multiplying all the terms by (1 rs / r) and dividing them by d2,

(1 rs / r) = (1 rs / r)2 (dt / d)2 (dr / d)2/ c2 (r / c)2 (1 rs / r) (d / d)2

Sweetser then goes into a rather obscure dissertation about things called killing fields. These are

used to reconfigure the Schwarzschild metric into something that will ultimately describe an orbit; in

other words, they're simply quantities that are substituted for other quantities in the equation above.

1) E / mc2 = (1 rs / r)(dt / d)

2) L / mc = (r2 / c)(d / d)

3) U = 1 / r

The third substitution allows (dr / d) to be replaced by (1 / U2)(dU / d), a step that wasn't at all

obvious to me, but turned out to be absolutely essential to the outcome. The quantities E and L actually

do represent energy and angular momentum as their labels imply. After we make the proper

substitutions and do a little algebra or more correctly quite a lot of algebra we arrive at the final

version of the exterior Schwarzschild metric with everything moved to the right of the equal sign.

27 That honor used to belong to Pluto, until Neil deGrasse Tyson and others demoted it to the status of a dwarf planet.

However, a group of NASA scientist are pushing to have it re-instated as a full-fledged member of the solar system.

28 This goes to show you what lengths astronomers will go to in measuring angles.

- 24 -

0 = (E / mc2 ) 2 (L2 / m2c2 )(dU / d)2 1 (L2 U2 / m2c2) + rsU + rs L2 U3 / (m2c2)

Now if you're like me, you'd be hard-pressed to see how this is any better than the original equation.

But there's one final trick that can get rid of more of the terms; namely, by taking the derivative of each

of the terms with respect to , and replacing rs with the value 2GM / c2:

0 = d2U / d2 + U GMm2 / L2 3GMU2 / c2 (1)

The part of (1) highlighted in red can be reduced to zero if r () describes an ellipse! Seeing this isn't

obvious at first, but we can test it by setting U to the function that follows. The blue part of (1) is

Einstein's correction to the ellipse that also needs to be reduced to zero, which we'll solve later.

U = 1 / r = (GMm2 / L2)(1 + cos ) , which is an equation of an ellipse, flipped upside down

We take the second derivative of U with respect to ,

d2U / d2 = (GMm2/L2)(1 + cos )

We plug the above expressions for U and (d2U / d2) into the part of (1) in red,

d2U / d2 + U GMm2 / L2 = (GMm2 / L2)cos + (GMm2 / L2)(1 + cos ) GMm2 / L2 = 0

That's the way mathematicians solve differential equations sometimes guessing the solution and

plugging it in to see if it works. Flipping U upside down does, in fact, give us an ellipse:

1 / U = r = (L2 / GMm2 ) / (1 + cos ) r = a(1 2) / (1 + cos ) , the general form of an ellipse

Okay, that's great. But where's the precession? Well, the blue part of the equation supplies the

precession part. First we calculate 3GMU2 / c2 using U2 = [(GMm2 / L2)(1 + cos )]2 and plug it

into (1) to find out exactly what needs to be canceled next: It's shown in blue below.

0 = d2U / d2 + U GMm2 / L2 (3GM / c2)(G2 M2 m4 / L4)(1 + 2cos + 2cos2)

We would like to cancel out the entire blue part, but the only term that matters is the cosine term,

because it repeats every cycle. Adding the part in green below to U will cancel all the red terms and

also (approximately) the cosine term: U = (GMm2/L2)[1 + cos ( 3G2M2m2 / c2L2)].

The Newtonian advancement of 2 per cycle divided by 2(1 3G2M2m2 / c2L2) yields .

= 2 / (1 3G2M2m2 / c2L2) 2 2 (1 + 3G2M2m2 / c2L2) 2 = 6G2M2m2 / c2L2

(L2 / GMm2 ) / (1 + cos ) a(1 2 ) / (1 + cos )

Using the above relationship, can now be expressed in terms of Mercury's orbital parameters.

(a, ) = 6GM / a(1 2 )c2

This is the angle the perihelion shifts every revolution around the Sun. For Mercury, there is a

revolution every 88 days, so there are 415 revolutions per (Earth) century. The semi-major axis, a, is

5.79 1010 m, and the eccentricity, , is 0.206. Plugging a, , G, M, and c into the formula for and

multiplying that angle by 415, we get a shift angle of 42.8'' per century, which matches up well with

the extra precession that had puzzled astronomers for a long time.

Hats off to Doug Sweetser, who organized the messy math in a fairly comprehensible fashion. I was

able to check everything he did using only a basic level of calculus. You can find his detailed

presentation of all 24 steps by clicking on This Link.

- 25 -

Appendix G Surf's Up

The bending of light and the precession of Mercury's perihelion aren't too hard to fathom when you

start out with the exterior Schwarzshcild metric; just apply a little calculus with a few approximations

to make the job easier. Gravity waves are a different matter (pun intended). The tensor algebra is

extremely difficult for ordinary amateur scientists like me to master, so I'll have to treat this topic with

kid gloves. Ordinary electromagnetic (EM) waves are so simple in comparison. All you have to do is

generate an alternating current in a wire, and Maxwell's equations clearly show how coupled electric

and magnetic fields propagate through space at the speed of light. Gravity waves are much harder to

analyze precisely. In order to generate them, you need something called a time-varying quadrupole

moment. Once you have that, you can derive gravity waves with about 9 pages of impenetrable math

with a lot of approximations. So what is a time-varying quadrupole anyway? Refer to the sketch

below of two bodies, M and m, orbiting around their common center of mass.

The time sequence is from left-to-right. The upper part of the sketch show the orbiting bodies from

above the orbital plane. The yellow object represents the quadrupole moment tensor, ITT, of the system.

Calculating ITT is devilishly complicated, so let's just leave it at that. In the top view, the bodies form a

counter-clockwise rotating dipole moment, which generates something called a strain gradient, h0, that

rotates at the frequency of revolution of the two bodies, fr. The bottom part of the sketch shows the

same bodies viewed along the orbital plane. In that view, the quadrupole moment changes shape

periodically at twice the revolution frequency, generating two strain gradients h+ and h of f = 2 fr. In a

nutshell, transverse gravity waves are time-varying strain gradients h0 or {h+ , h}.

One of the tests of general relativity is to see whether gravity waves actually exist in nature.

Unfortunately, the effect is extremely weak. Only astronomical-sized bodies like orbiting stars are

large enough produce anything close to measurable waves, and even then it is extremely hard to

measure them directly. There is at least one way they could be observed indirectly measuring the

decaying orbits of rapidly-revolving binary star systems.

- 26 -

After many pages of excruciatingly difficult math using a number of assumptions, you can come up

with an approximate formula giving the total power lost by gravity waves radiating from a binary

system having two masses, M and m, in circular orbits around their common center of mass:

P = dE/dt = 32/5 G4 (M m)2 (M + m) / r5 c3 , where r = separation distance between M and m

It turns out that a binary system with elliptical orbits would produce more radiation than one with

circular orbits. An interesting thing to note is that P as r0. This is because gravity can supply an

infinite amount of negative energy. Of course, physical bodies have radii, so it would be impossible for

the r between them to ever reach zero in the first place, but you can see that smaller orbits will radiate

significantly more power than larger ones.

The total orbital energy (kinetic + potential) of a two-body system is given by E = M m / r. If the

bodies radiate energy, then E must become more negative and r must decrease. Let's see how long it

will take r to reach zero, starting with r = R.

dE/dr = M m / r2

dr/dE = 2 r2 / M m

dr/dt = (dr/dE) (dE/dt) = (2 r2 / M m ) ( 32/5 G4 (M m)2 (M + m) / r5 c3 )

A few of the terms above will cancel, so

dr/dt = [ 64/5 G4 (M m) (M + m) / r3 c3 ]

r3 dr = [ 64/5 G4 (M m) (M + m) / c3 ] dt

Integrating both sides of the second equation,

(r14 r24) = [ 64/5 G4 (M m) (M + m) / c3 ] (t2 t1)

t decay = R4 {5 c3 / [256 G4 (M m) (M + m) ]} , r1 = R, r2 = 0, t1 = 0, t2 = t decay

A normalized orbital decay is obtained by setting {5 c3 / [256 G4 (M m) (M + m) ]} = 1. The plot below

shows the radius shrinking over time with 1.0 R on the y-axis and 1.0 t decay on the x-axis.

- 27 -

For the Earth-Sun system, t decay is on the order of 10 25 years, which is good news because it means

orbital decay is one less catastrophe we have to worry about. So what are the chances of us catching a

wave so to speak, by actually observing a decaying orbit somewhere else in the universe? There have

been several such observations, one involving the Hulse-Taylor binary star. This is an unusual binary

in that it consists of pulsars, emitting radio signals in synch with the orbital frequency. That frequency

appears to be increasing, meaning the orbital radius is decaying in a manner similar to the normalized

plot above, which may be an indication Hulse-Taylor is emitting gravity waves. Of course, it may be

an indication of something else, such as tidal forces. For example, the orbit of the Moon is getting

larger because it produces tides on Earth, which spins 27 times faster than the Moon's 27-day period.

Those tides boost the Moon's orbital energy by a small amount, but it's many orders of magnitude more

than the energy the Moon radiates away by gravity waves. If the Earth were spinning more slowly than

the Moon's revolution, or if the Earth were spinning in the opposite direction, tidal forces would drain

much more of the the Moon's orbital energy than radiating gravity waves ever could.

Could scientists detect gravity waves directly, using something like a gravity antenna? Well, there's a

problem with this. Three important assumptions are made when developing the gravity-wave

equations. These are summarized in the following three inequalities involving distances.

R universe >> r >> >> s

The first distance is the radius of the universe itself, which is expanding. The second distance, r, is the

size of the source of the waves. The third distance is the wavelength, = c / f. The fourth distance, s, is

the scale of a system affected by the waves. The first inequality means we don't have to consider the

expansion of the universe affecting the propagation of gravity waves. The second inequality means

that the gravity waves are transverse and not simply static tidal forces due to variations in the proximity

to gravitating bodies. The third inequality means the the gravity waves are not generated by bodies

moving at relativistic speeds, which would produce higher-order effects due to non-linear properties of

the GR field equations. The third inequality is important, because it means that any gravity antenna

system would be much smaller than typical gravity waves it's trying to detect.

A binary star, consisting of a pair of solar masses separated by the radius of Mercury's orbit, will

complete one orbit every 88 days. Because f = 2 fr for h+ and h waves, their wavelength, , is 44 light-

days, a distance of 1.14 1012 km. The orbit of Neptune, the outermost actual planet in the solar

system, has a diameter of about 9 109 km. Therefore, the of radiation from the binary star is 127

times larger than what is currently considered the size of the solar system. I'm not sure if that satisfies

>> s, but it's close enough for me. The bottom line is that you'd need a gravity antenna larger than the

solar system to reliably detect gravity radiation emitted by a typical binary star.

According to Einstein's equivalency principle, free-falling objects in uniform gravitational fields don't

feel any effects of gravity. This is much different than EM fields. If you attach accelerometers to

electrically-charged objects and release them in an electric field, their accelerometers will measure

different rates of acceleration depending on the object's mass and electrical charge. If you perform the

same experiment in a uniform gravitational field, the accelerometers all record zero regardless of how

much mass the objects have, and they all move together. Things are a little different when objects are

placed in non-uniform gravitational fields, and when they are exposed to gravity waves.

The next appendix will explore attempts professional scientists are making at detecting gravity waves,

including looking for signs of quadrupole gravity patterns in the so-called CMB (cosmic microwave

background), and listening for the sound of black holes colliding. Stay tuned.

- 28 -

Appendix H Catch a Wave

What's it like to have a gravity wave slam into you? Imagine yourself floating weightless in space

surrounded by other objects, shown as red dots, whose distances and angles to your position can be

measured with a transit equipped with a laser range finder. Getting rid of any notion that you're in an

absolute frame of reference, you might as well consider yourself being at the center of the universe.

The situation you find yourself in is depicted below in the first diagram on the left.

Now suppose an h+ gravity wave arrives at your location traveling in a direction perpendicular to this

page. You notice that distances and angles to the other objects are all changing, although you don't feel

any acceleration or sense of motion at all. The objects around you change their positions as shown in

the second diagram. It seems as if the whole universe has been squashed in the horizontal direction and

stretched in the vertical direction. After a little while, things return back to normal, as shown in the

third diagram above. Then it happens all over again, but this time the objects have shifted to the

configuration shown in the fourth diagram, as if the universe has been stretched in the horizontal

direction and squashed in the vertical direction. Again, you don't feel any sensation of motion while it

is happening. This sequence of events repeats over and over as gravity waves continue to waft over

you and your surroundings.

The funny thing is when you ask your neighbor what she experienced, she says exactly the same thing

happened to her. Taking a survey of everyone around you who encountered the h+ wave, they all tell

the very same improbable story: Every object around them seemed to shift horizontally and vertically

at the same time, yet nobody felt any motion.

The above occurrence describes an encounter with gravity plane wave, based on the the premise that it

wavelength >> s, where s is the scale of collection of surrounding objects. So what kind of events

can cause such a gravity wave and what are the chances of observing one directly? A gravity-wave

source must be time-varying and cannot be spherically symmetrical. There are plenty of those sources

in the universe. As we saw earlier, a binary star is an emitter of gravity waves, although it's a very

weak one. A supernova is another one. You might think an exploding star would be spherically

symmetrical, but it's actually not if it spins on its axis, which most stars do. But the best chance we

have in observing gravity waves would be if they came from collision of two extremely massive

objects, commonly called black holes.29 That's because the frequencies of the strains h+ (or h)

29 I'll refer to them as black holes here, even though I'm convinced that no true holes actually exist. Large stars collapse

- 29 -

generated by such a collision are supposedly around 100 Hz or greater, which is very high for gravity

waves, so the wavelengths will be 3 million meters or less. It may be possible to build a gravity

antenna that can detect these waves by building something that's not too far below that scale. Scale is

very important because since h is strain, defined as h = L / L, in order for L to be detectable, let

alone measurable, L must be very large, preferably on the order of .

The LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) project is one such very elegant

gravity antenna. It's actually an updated version of the famous Michelson-Morley interferometer,

which failed to detect any motion of the Earth through the ther wind, caused by the motion of the

Earth through a hypothetical medium that transmits light. LIGO has two perpendicular arms, like the

Michelson-Morley version, with some significant differences. Whereas the M-M interferometer had a

scale of 11 meters, LIGO's arms are four km long and that was stretched to 1,120,000 meters by having

the light reflect back and forth between two mirrors 280 times. A scale that large is getting pretty close

to being in the range of . The mirrors in the M-M interferometer were rigidly fixed to a stone slab, but

that won't work with a gravity antenna because the idea is to have the mirrors float as if they are in

free fall in space, allowing the distances between them vary, so LIGO's floating mirrors are suspended

from special pendulums in a vacuum. An ideal gravity wave for LIGO would be an h+ wave that came

straight down from the sky with a polarization aligned with the arms. In that configuration, the

effective length of one arm would increase by the maximum amount while the effective length of the

other arm would simultaneously decrease, maximizing the interference signal at the photodetector.

There seems to be a paradox however. If space is stretching and shrinking, wouldn't that also affect the

the measuring rod light that is used to measure the length of the arms? It would seem that the exact

same number of light wavelengths would travel to the mirrors and back if the light stretched and shrank

the same amount as the arms. It turns out not to be the case. What LIGO is actually measuring is the

time it takes for the light to be reflected back and forth 280 times, regardless of how the light's

wavelength is affected. A time differential between the arms translates into a phase shift. But how

could LIGO succeed when Michelson and Morley were doomed to failure? It's because the M-M

interferometer was set up to measure a time differential between the arms that simply does not exist

the speed of light is constant in every direction.

In February 2016, the LIGO team announced that it had detected the long-awaited gravity-wave signal

generated by two colliding black holes. As a retired engineer, I was very interested in finding out how

this feat was accomplished, so I read over LIGO's design specifications on Caltech's Site, and I found

them to be quite extreme and very impressive. LIGO is certainly not your grandpa's interferometer.

LIGO was designed to detect a strain of 10 21. That's a displacement of only 4 10 17 m over a 4 km

stretch, compared to the diameter of a proton, 10 15 m. LIGO's light source is a highly-coherent light

beam from a 200-watt laser.30 The light passes through the beam splitter, where it enters the two arms.

Each arm has a light cavity where it bounces back and forth between two mirrors one near the beam

splitter and one at the end of the light tube 4 km away. The cavity is designed to accomplish two

objectives: 1) allow the beam to make 280 passes back and forth before returning to the beam splitter,

thus increasing the effective length of the arm by a factor of 280, and 2) amplify the 100 watts coming

into ECOs (eternally collapsing objects), which are very gravitationally compact but do not have true event horizons.

To a distant observer an ECO resembles a black hole in almost every respect because an ECO's gravity will red shift

any light emitted from it into oblivion. The major difference between ECO and a black hole observed from afar is that

an ECO has an immense magnetic field, whereas a true black hole cannot possess any magnetic field at all.

30 Michelson and Morley were stuck with pretty primitive light sources. Thomas Edison patented the electric light bulb in

1879, but M-M actually used oil lamps as light sources in their 1881 and 1887 experiments! Go figure.

- 30 -

from the laser into a mammoth 750 kW monster beam.31 The latter objective sharpens the interference

pattern by reducing shot noise. Light consists of tiny energy packets, or quanta, called photons.

Photons act like individual particles like pellets from a shot gun. The pellets, or shot, produce noise

like rain drops falling on a metal roof. By increasing the number of pellets per second, the individual

photons merge into a classical wave that produces a sharp image as opposed to the blotchy image you'd

get from individual light quanta.

Light applies a force to a mirror when it reflects from it. A 750 kW beam produces 0.005 nt or about

gram of force on the mirrors. LIGO's mirrors weigh in at 40 kg. A force of 0.005 nt would produce

an acceleration of 0.000125 m/sec2, which isn't much; but it's obvious that even a tiny % variation in

the power of a 750 kW beam could change the force enough to move the mirrors more than the width

of a proton. Thus, extreme care must be taken to keep the cavity beams at constant power levels.

When you look down at the lights of Los Angeles from Griffith Observatory, you'll see a noticeable

twinkle from light quanta colliding with air (and smog) molecules. Light colliding with air molecules

inside the light cavities would wreck any chances of using light as a measuring rod to detect mirror

displacements smaller than a proton, so LIGO's mirrors are suspended in a vacuum that has an air

density 10% of the air density in outer space.32

The mirrors are suspended by pendulums (or pendula?) having a four-stage design, shown below. Four

weights, including the mirror at the lower end, are suspended from

four pendulum arms of varying lengths so that the pendulum won't

resonate at any particular frequency. If the support should move to

the left or right from external vibrations, the pendulum dampens the

motion so the mirror stays aligned with the red line. The picture is

very exaggerated to show the effect. Other optics in the LIGO

system that are required to stay in perfect horizontal alignment are

suspended the same way. In addition, LIGO employs active

damping, which senses vibrations and applies counter forces that

cancel them out. Without these extreme measures, LIGO would be

little more than a very expensive seismograph.

Even with these extreme measures, some noise gets added to the

signal that needs to be dealt with. This is a classic problem

encountered in communication engineering: to reliably detect signals

coming from noisy channels. In the 1940s, Claude Shannon, the father of modern communication

engineering, pointed to techniques that solved that problem. Intuitively, you would think you can pass

the noisy signal through a filter that somehow cancels the noise, but that's not effective because you

don't know a priori what needs to be canceled since noise is random. In fact, reducing the signal's

bandwidth with filtering just makes matters worse. Shannon showed that in order to extract a signal

from a noisy channel, you have to process the signal before it enters the channel by encoding it using a

clever algorithm that adds redundancy to the signal and spreads its frequencies over a wider bandwidth.

At the receiving end, the noisy signal is processed by a decoder that removes the redundancy,

dramatically reducing the noise and making reliable communication through the noise possible.

31 750 kW is enough power to supply the electricity used by 750 American homes.

32 I'm not sure what Cal Tech really means by outer space. It could mean space where Earth satellites are in orbit, or

maybe interplanetary space, interstellar space, or even intergalactic space. Who knows? In any case, LIGO's vacuum is

pretty good.

- 31 -

In the case of LIGO, the wave signals originate from faraway events over which we have no control, so

there's no way to process or encode the signal before it enters the noisy channel (the interferometer

itself). The best you can achieve in that instance is to use a filtering circuit matched to the signal you're

hoping to detect. The LIGO folks were hoping to detect gravity-wave signals from collisions of black

holes or neutron stars, so they used their general relativity analytical skills to simulate the signals such

collisions would likely to produce, and matched digital filters to those signals. There's a problem with

this approach, however. Suppose we're trying to detect a faint audio signal at a frequency of 261.6 Hz,

or middle C. A tuning fork resonating at middle C would make a good filter for that signal because any

sound waves vibrating at 261.6 Hz will make the tuning fork respond and start to resonate at 261.6 Hz.

Unfortunately, the tuning fork will also start to resonate if it's hit by a hammer or if a pressure wave

comes along. There's a similar issue with using matched filters tuned to specific gravity-wave patterns.

The impulse response of a matched filter is the same as the signal you're trying to detect.

There is one source of noise that cannot be eliminated by increasing the intensity of the laser beam or

isolating the interferometer from external vibrations: quantum noise. According to the Heisenberg

uncertainty principle, there are always errors when making measurements. The errors are expressed by

the equation x p = h, where x is the distance error, p is the momentum error, and h is the Planck

constant = 6.626 1034 m2 kg/sec. Reducing the measurement error of the mirror's deflection to x

introduces an error in the mirror's momentum, p = h / x = M v, where M is the mass of the mirror.

Since the interferometer responds to changes in length (a phase shift) or the mirror velocity (a Doppler

shift), quantum errors in one of these measurements simply cannot be avoided, and these show up as

random noise in the channel. The quantum error in velocity, v, for LIGO's mirrors is

v = h / M x , where x = 10 17 m and M = 40 kg

v = 4.14 10 19 m / sec

The gravity waves LIGO is designed to detect waves that have a frequency bandwidth of 100 Hz and

produce mirror deflections = 10 17 m. The peak velocity of the mirror is 2 100 = 4 10 15

m/sec, so the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is around 4 10 15 / 4.14 10 19 10,000:1. Applying the

voltage formula to express this in decibels, SNR = 20 log10 (10,000) = + 80 dB, an extremely good

signal-to-noise ratio. Clearly quantum noise is not a significant concern.

On February 11, 2016, a press release reported that LIGO detected gravity-wave signals that had

originated from a collision of two black holes. The signals were in the audio range and sounded like a

chirp. Needless to say, scientists all around the world were very excited by the news, saying it

ushered in a new era of astronomy. There were some who doubted the LIGO team's claims; however,

some of them seem to be conspiracy theorists or crackpots who have little understanding of the physics

behind gravity waves. There was one pair of skeptics who do appear to have pretty solid reasons for

their skepticism.

Xiaochun Mei of the Institute of Innovative Physics in Fuzhou, China, and Ping Yu of Cognitech

Calculating Technology Institute in Los Angeles, CA., published a paper entitled, Did LIGO Really

Detect Gravitational Waves? As the title of their paper suggests, they cast doubt on the veracity of the

LIGO team's claims in three critical areas: 1) The ability to accurately calculate the fingerprints of

gravity waves resulting from the collision of two black holes based on Einstein's field equations, 2) the

ability of the interferometers to actually detect movements of a mirror that are a mere 0.0001 times the

diameter of a proton, and 3) the ability to screen out electromagnetic influences on the order of 1040

stronger than those from gravity waves. A PDF copy of their paper can be obtained From This Link.

- 32 -

Appendix I As Above, So Below

In Episode 6 of the brilliant National Geographic television series, Genius, it's 1914 and Einstein is

making arrangements to send an ill-fated expedition to Crimea to take photographs of a solar eclipse

which will prove that gravity bends light, thus validating his general theory of relativity. The problem

is that by using the 1914 version of GR, Einstein has calculated the wrong angle of deflection near the

Sun. Meanwhile, Mileva Einstein has an encounter with a Serbian mathematician, who may or may

not be fictional, and he hands her a proof that general relativity violates Mach's principle. Mileva tries

to warn her husband that he's about to make a fool of himself, but he rudely dismisses her. Fate

intervenes in Einstein's favor, WWI breaks out, and the members of the Crimean expedition are

captured and jailed by the Russians, who accuse them of espionage. Einstein's long-awaited proof of

general relativity the cleaned-up version would have to wait until 1919.

The question is, what is Mach's principle and why would violating it be so important? Ernst Mach was

a brilliant Austrian physicist, whose name is familiar to most people only because it's somehow

connected to supersonic travel. Mach was from the old school of realists who didn't even believe in

molecules because they couldn't see them, but some of his ideas were quite advanced considering the

age he lived in. It is said that Einstein used those ideas as the basis of general relativity. Simply put,

Mach's principle states that local inertial frames are determined by the configuration of matter in the

universe. The definition of an inertial frame is based on the following statement.

An inertial system is one in which a body remains at rest or moves with constant linear velocity unless

acted upon by forces. Any frame of reference that moves with constant velocity relative to an inertial

system is itself an inertial system.

The first part of the above statement is true for local frames generally, but the second part is only true

in the absence of gravity, as in special relativity. For example, if two satellites are in different orbits

around the Earth, both will be in local inertial frames in accordance with Einstein's equivalence

principle applied to free-falling bodies. However, the satellites' two frames of reference clearly do not

move with constant velocity relative to each other, and if Satellite A did move with constant velocity

relative to Satellite B, both of them could not be be in inertial frames.33 So how do you know if you're

in a local inertial frame? The simple answer is to carry an accelerometer around with you. If it records

zero, then you're in an inertial frame. Sitting in a chair in your living room, you'll see that the

accelerometer records 9.8 m/sec2, which means you're definitely not sitting in an inertial frame.

But exactly what is inertia in the first place? Well, according to general relativity inertia = mass.

The more mass an object has, the greater its tendency for it not to move if a force is applied to it and

the greater the tendency for it to keep moving if it already is. That's Newton's first law of motion.34

Inertia times velocity equals linear momentum, p, which is conserved.35 You can't create momentum

from nothing. Starting or stopping an object's motion requires pushing on another object, involving a

transfer of linear momentum from one object to another. That's Newton's third law of motion.

33 This is what makes orbital rendezvous maneuvers so tricky. Trying to rendezvous with an orbiting satellite simply by

aiming in its direction won't work until you get very close to it, and your two frames converge.

34 Aristotle had a slightly different take on this. According to him, objects are made of four elements: Earth, water, air

and fire. The earth element has the tendency to remain motionless. Thus, when you slide a coffee cup across a table, it

quickly comes to a stop simply because the cup consists mostly of the earth element.

35 Emmy Noether proved that the conservation of linear momentum implies translational symmetry in the universe. In

other words, boiling an egg in Chicago takes just as long as it does in London.

- 33 -

Rotation is another kind of motion that's qualitatively different than linear motion. In addition to mass,

objects have a rotational inertia known as moment of inertia, symbolized by the letter I. The moment

of inertia is mass distributed over a radius. Angular momentum, L, is the rotational equivalent to p; it's

equal to I times the rotational velocity, . L is also a separately-conserved quantity that can't be

created or destroyed,36 an an object cannot change its angular momentum unless it's acted on by

exchanging angular momentum with another object.

People make the mistake of conflating angular momentum with a change in the direction of linear

momentum. According to this interpretation, an object moving counter-clockwise in a circular orbit

with a radius R has a forward momentum, pf, that is continually changing direction. That must mean

there's a radial component of momentum, pr, pointing away from the center of the orbit. Well, that's

just wrong. The angular momentum vector points upward out of the plane of the orbit, not radially

within the plane of the orbit. Linear momentum and angular momentum are separate things; they must

be treated separately. An electron is considered as a point particle, so it can't spin the way a figure

skater spins with her arms extended or pulled in; nevertheless, an electron has inherent angular

momentum that produces the same effect as a spinning figure skater, and this can be measured.

So what does this have to do with Mach's principle or general relativity? Look at the figure below of a

perfectly symmetrical hollow sphere in empty space with a piece cut out to expose its interior.

According to Newtonian physics, the interior of such a sphere would have zero gravity, so a red test

particle, labeled T in the cutaway, would simply float around weightless inside the sphere, regardless of

how massive the sphere is.

In classical terms, T would be in an inertial frame and it wouldn't experience any forces. Now would it

make any difference if the sphere were spinning? According to Newton, the answer is a definite no,

but the answer would be yes according to general relativity. To understand how this comes about, we

first need to review the bucket experiment Newton performed in 1689. He filled a bucket with water

and set the bucket spinning. At first nothing happened to the water, but eventually friction set the water

in a circular motion as well, whereupon the water's surface took on a concave shape, climbing up the

sides of the bucket. Newton explained that since the bucket and the water were in a fixed (x, y, z)

coordinate system, the water experienced no acceleration until it moved in a circular motion with

36 Emmy Noether proved that the conservation of angular momentum implies rotational symmetry in the universe. In

other words, boiling an egg with the stove pointing north takes just as long as it does pointing east or west.

- 34 -

respect to those fixed coordinates. The rotation of the bucket had no influence whatsoever on the

water, except to get the water rotating. Mach, on the other hand, argued that the motion of the bucket

does have an effect on the water, although it is negligible in comparison to the moving mass of the

entire universe, and the effect of the bucket would be measurable if the bucket were thick and massive

enough. In other words, the way mass is distributed throughout the universe establishes local inertial

frames of reference for both linear motion and circular motion. Mach said that spinning beneath a non-

spinning universe is exactly the same not spinning beneath a spinning universe: As above, so below.

This takes the principle of relativity to a much deeper level. Mach argued further that the property

called inertia is related to some local property of space, and it's affected by the configuration of the

surrounding universe. A body's motion and inertia (mass) are meaningless concepts except in

relation to other bodies. You can clearly see how general relativity is connected to Mach's principle.

How does one tell if they're in a rotational inertial frame? An accelerometer might give an erroneous

answer because it responds to both centrifugal and linear accelerations, but the alignment of a free-

spinning gyroscope37 would be affected by rotation but not by linear acceleration. So carrying an

accelerometer and a free-spinning gyroscope would give an accurate indication of being in a true

inertial frame. If the accelerometer measures zero and the alignment of the gyroscope doesn't change,

then you're in a true inertial frame; otherwise, you're not. An astronaut in Earth orbit strapped inside a

capsule kept pointing down (toward the Earth) will not be in a true inertial frame because the capsule

rotates once per orbit with respect to a free-spinning gyroscope that always points in one direction.

Since the Earth spins, this should affect the inertial frame of space surrounding it and cause a free-

spinning gyroscope in orbit around the Earth to slowly change its direction of orientation. This effect is

called frame dragging38 and there are experiments being carried out to detect it. Like the effects of

gravity waves, this effect is very weak, measured in parts per trillion.

In our local corner of the universe, the Earth rotates in the same direction as it revolves around the Sun,

which is the same direction as the the other planets revolve and rotate, which is the same direction as

the Sun itself rotates. With very few exceptions, the angular momentum of every object in the solar

system points in the same general direction. But that's not the case over very large scales. Sure, the

Milky Way galaxy is big and it rotates in a particular direction, but when you look farther out into the

cosmos using powerful telescopes, the directions of the galaxies' rotations seem to be completely

random. In other words, the angular momentum of the universe on a cosmological scale appears to be

close to zero. Is this an accident or is there a reason for it?

The mathematician Kurt Gdel wondered what Einstein's field equations would reveal to us about a

universe that spins in other words a universe where all the planets, stars, and galaxies rotated and

revolved around each other in the same general direction. This would set up a preferred direction in the

universe, making it asymmetric. What Gdel found was both very interesting and quite disturbing. His

calculations produced a strange mathematical result called a closed timelike curve (CTC). A body

traveling completely around such a CTC could arrive at the starting point before it left. Does it mean

reverse time travel is actually possible? Well, no it doesn't. Gdel's calculations produced a genuine

paradox one that leads at least one person (me) to believe something important is missing from

Einstein's field equations. I'm going to explore that possibility a bit further in a future appendix by

starting out with a bold conjecture. Stay tuned.

37 A free-spinning gyroscope is perfectly balanced; it's suspended within a gimbal system where all three axes intersect at

the center of gyroscope.

38 Another name for it is the Lense-Thirring effect, named after Josef Lense and Hans Thirring. They derived a metric

from the GR field equations that describes the phenomenon.

- 35 -

Appendix J Bend with a Twist

Conjecture

A free-falling body experiences a flat universe surrounded by completely symmetrical

distributions of mass-energy, linear momentum and angular momentum. This is what a body

experiences when it follows a geodesic path through space-time.

This statement follows the Copernican principle, which says that the universe looks pretty much the

same to all observers. The three symmetries mentioned in the conjecture are consequences of three

conservation laws: Mass-energy, linear momentum and angular momentum. As Emmy Noether

proved, the three conservation laws are expressions of three symmetries.

1. Time symmetry the laws of nature don't vary when moving in time.

2. Displacement symmetry the laws of nature don't vary when moving in space.

3. Rotation symmetry the laws of nature don't vary when rotating in space.

The third symmetry and its conservation law are interesting because they demand that space have three

degrees of freedom with three dimensions in order to properly define cross products and angular

momentum. Thus, there are seven degrees of freedom overall: One for time, three for displacement,

and three for rotation. The fact that the universe is so symmetrical overall stems from the fact that it is

radically relativistic there are no absolute times, distances, or angles.

Kurt Gdel's strange spinning universe was discussed briefly in the previous appendix. Now we can

sort of understand why our universe is symmetrical unlike Gdel's. But what if it weren't? Imagine a

universe where axes of rotations of every spinning body were lined up in the same direction, shown in

the figure below. Invoking Mach's principle, a non-spinning object sitting in a spinning universe is the

same as a spinning object in a non-spinning universe. A local set of coordinate axes (in red) would

rotate in the same direction as the universe's asymmetrical angular momentum in order to produce an

inertial frame of reference. The axes of a free-spinning gyroscope would precess in a circle relative to

the array of surrounding spinning objects.

- 36 -

So how do Einstein's field equations (EFE) handle this situation? I've referred to EFE a number of

times thus far, so I think it's time to partially dissect them. Since this essay is for amateur scientists, I'm

going to try to keep this simple and not go off the deep end. The EFE is deceptively innocent-looking,

but solving it is quite horrendous.

R R g = (8 G / c4 ) T

The symbols R and g are 4 4 tensors, which are matrices that describe the curvature of space-time.

I'm not going into any detail about those, other than to say that curvature is expressed as the inverse of

area, in m 2. The symbol T is the 4 4 stress-energy tensor, and it forms relationships with the other

4 4 tensors in the EFE. The reason why these tensors are 4 4 is because we're dealing with four

dimensions: time plus three spatial dimensions. They form 16 linked, non-linear differential equations,

but since the off-diagonal elements of T are duplicates of each other, this leaves only ten non-linear

equations to solve instead of sixteen.39

The elements of T and their physical significance are explained below.

T00 T01 T02 T03 The superscripts correspond to the space-time dimensions, 0 for the time

T10 T11 T12 T13 dimension and 1, 2, 3 for spatial dimensions, such as x, y, z. Each

T20 T21 T22 T23 element represents a momentum flux, p / t, divided by an area, A.

T30 T31 T32 T33 Thus, each elements has dimensions corresponding either to force divided

by area or by energy divided by volume. T00, highlighted in red is expressed as energy per volume, or

equivalently mass per volume, or the mass density, . T01, T02 and T03 are equal to the total momentum

flux cutting across the x, y, and z planes respectively. T11 is the x-component of flux normal to the x

plane, T22 is the y-component of flux normal to y plane, and T33 is the z-component of flux normal to

the z plane. Thus, each of those three preceding elements, highlighted in blue, represent pressures.

The elements highlighted in green represent shear stresses, since they are components of momentum

flux running along the surfaces of the x, y, and z planes. The dimensions of 8 G / c4 are nt 1, so the

dimension of the right-hand side of the EFE is m 2, matching the m 2 dimension of the curvature

tensors on the left-hand side.

As you can see, there is nothing found in the EFE that explicitly addresses angular momentum. That's

the missing piece I was referring to in the previous appendix. There are seven degrees of freedom in

the conservation laws, but only four degrees of freedom are found in the EFE. In order to handle

rotating objects in the EFE, the fixed coordinates are changed to rotating coordinates, but doing that

still doesn't properly account for spin. In order to do it properly, a spin tensor, S, is included. The

elements of S are expressed in units of angular momentum per unit volume, and they are related to the

elements of T expressed as torque density instead of energy density.

It turns out that S = T T 0, so the presence of angular momentum produces a spin

tensor, making off-diagonal elements of T unequal for an asymmetrical space-time. A geodesic with

this kind of asymmetry not only curves and bends, but it also twists! What I briefly described in the

last two paragraphs is known as the Einstein-Cartan theory. It's a modification to general relativity

developed by lie Cartan in 1922, before the discovery of the spin quantum. It's interesting to note that

the intrinsic spin of every particle in nature is a multiple of the fundamental spin quantum, . This

makes me wonder if including spin may be the path to achieving a theory of quantum gravity.

39 Solving 10 non-linear differential equations is still 10 too many as far as I'm concerned.

- 37 -

Appendix K Esoterica

The theoretical physics community is bothered by the fact that nobody has been able to come up with a

way of unifying the four fundamental forces of nature, which are: Electromagnetic, weak, strong,

and gravitational. The first three forces have been successfully merged into the Standard Model of

Particle Physics through the introduction of force carrier particles that mediate these forces; but

gravity stubbornly refuses to participate. Theoretical physicists would like to tie it all together with a

proposed gravitational force carrier called the graviton,40 but the mathematics generate infinities that

just won't go away. The other force carriers produce infinities too, but those can be eliminated using a

sleight of hand called renormalization. 41 Unfortunately, gravitational infinities won't yield to this

trick. This has led scientists to delve into some pretty esoteric stuff, including 11-dimensional string

(or M) theory, loop quantum gravity, etc. String theorists claim that the long-sought-after graviton just

pops right out of their equations. That is somewhat encouraging; however, lots of other particles also

pop out of those same equations, but they don't match anything in physical reality.

There's a tendency to think of gravity in terms of electromagnetism. The static attraction of two bodies

with opposite electrical charges is certainly similar to the static gravitational attraction of two masses.

The gravitational acceleration vector, g, is similar to the electric field vector, E, so we could refer to g

as the Eg field with a permittivity constant, g, which replaces (4 G) 1. This leads to a complete set of

analogies, a mouthful called gravitoelectromagnetism. EM waves propagate through space due to a

coupling of the E field to the magnetic field, B, per Maxwell's equations. So there should be a

gravitational equivalent, Bg, with a permeability constant g = 1 / c2 g. Bg is coupled to Eg through a

similar set of equations that facilitate gravity waves propagating at the speed of light. The B field

results from moving charges, where a B field encircles a wire carrying electric current. Similarly, a Bg

field would encircle a pipe carrying flowing water. Some gravitational effects can be mimicked by

applying such analogies, but the mimicry starts to wear a bit thin under closer scrutiny. Maxwell's

equations are linear differential equations, but there's nothing linear about gravity. I think Vesselin

Petkov of the Minkowki Institute summed it up pretty well in this statement:

There is no proper tensorial expression (which represents a real physical quantity) for gravitational energy

and momentum; for 100 years no one has managed to find such an expression. Gravitational phenomena are

fully explained in general relativity as mere effects of the non-Euclidean geometry of spacetime and no

additional hypothesis of gravitational interaction (and therefore of gravitational energy and momentum) is

necessary (as Eddington put in [sic] 1921, 'gravitation as a separate agency becomes unnecessary').

Yet the beat goes on as physicists worldwide try to link gravity with the other forces with one eye

focused on a Nobel Prize. Einstein himself wasted the latter part of his career chasing that will-o'-the-

wisp. I think the basic mistake he made was lapsing into thinking of gravity as just another force. As

the preceding discussions have shown, Einstein's breakthrough in general relativity came about by

considering gravity as a modification of geometry instead of a force. A charged particle in an electric

field experiences an acceleration that requires a force to resist it. A test mass in a gravitational field

will also accelerate toward the gravitating body, and a force is required to to resist it, but a free-falling

40 All elementary particles, except the Higgs boson, have intrinsic spin. The graviton is supposedly a massless particle

with a spin of two. Its nearest analog would be the photon, a massless particle with a spin of one.

41 Renormalization was invented by the irrepressible Richard Feynman. It basically involves subtracting one infinity from

another in order to produce a finite value. Even Feynman admitted that the mathematical validity of his technique is

highly questionable, but it does make predictions that match experimental results. Hey, use whatever works, right?

- 38 -

observer will not measure any acceleration. This makes gravity a non-force. If gravity isn't really a

force, then maybe its force carrier doesn't really exist.

Can gravity ever be successfully quantized? A quantum is simply the smallest possible amount of some

quantity, such as energy or angular momentum, that can be measured. There are those who believe that

space-time itself is quantized into so-called Planck units. The Planck length and Planck time are very

tiny, around 10 35 meters and 10 43 seconds respectively. They say if you could observe space down to

the Planck scale, you'd see a roiling, churning, chaotic quantum foam instead of the glass-smooth space

we all enjoy. Well, there's very little chance of doing that because the Planck length is the size of a

proton divided by 10 20. I think Planck scales are fun to talk about, but I don't believe they have any

physical significance beyond combining the three fundamental physical parameters, , c, and G. When

you try to quantize mass using those parameters, what you get isn't very tiny; it's about 2 10 8 kg, a

mass you can actually weigh on a scale. Of course, physicists try to attach a physical significance to it

anyway: It's the smallest mass that can form you guessed it a black hole! (Eye roll.)

Here's my opinion on the subject of space-time quanta. Establishing a minimum size for measuring

distance would be akin to establishing a preferred scale. If there's anything that relativity teaches us,

it's that fact there is no preferred anything in the universe; the universe is radically relativistic. I think

The quantum nature of objects is revealed by zooming in to smaller and smaller scales, but I'm

convinced space and time are scale-invariant like a fractal. Distances and angles can decrease without

any limits. Since gravitation = geometry, that makes gravitation scale-invariant as well.

There are a couple of questions I would like answered by the experts: Does gravity have mass and

does gravity bend gravity like it bends light?

If gravity has energy, then it should have an equivalent mass = e / c2. However, when a system of

masses comes together by gravitation, the system's total energy decreases as the gravitational field

increases. It would seem logical that when a system is being compressed by gravity, its net mass-

energy should decrease even while the positive energy of internal pressure increases. The effect of

losing mass-energy would be hardly noticeable in most cases, but it could be quite pronounced if an

object tries to become a black hole. Or is my thinking this way yet another error caused by equating

gravity to a force (harkening back to the statement by Petkov quoted earlier)?

As far as gravity bending gravity, I came up with a simple thought experiment that seems to disprove

that hypothesis. Imagine a binary star that emits gravity waves having a short wavelength, say on the

order of thousands of meters. And suppose those gravity waves are so strong that they can be readily

detected from Earth using some kind of gravity telescope. And further suppose that the direction of the

source of those waves can be determined by triangulation with enough precision that it aligns with the

visible light from the binary. If the binary star passes near the limb of the Sun, would the direction of

its gravity waves shift by the same 1.75'' of arc that its light is shifted?

Recalling the travels of Johnny Photon, you'll remember that as Johnny's speed increased relative to the

surrounding stars and galaxies, the light from these objects shifted toward the direction of Johnny's

motion. If gravity shifted forward the same way, Johnny would find himself in an asymmetric inertial

frame, accelerated in a forward direction by a gravitational attraction to the universe itself. So I think

the answer is clear: While the effects of gravity are delayed by the speed of light due to restrictions

imposed by causality, gravity doesn't propagate the way light does because it's not a true force.

Gravity defines an observer's local inertial frame by combining the gravitational effects of mass-energy,

linear momentum and angular momentum from every object within the observer's causal radius.

- 39 -

Appendix L Down the Rabbit Hole

I often ask myself simpleminded questions and then go search on the Internet to see if anyone has

answered them or even if anyone has ever asked them. An example of such a question is, If a

kilogram of sand were delivered to Earth from deep space, how much mass would the Earth gain?

Most people would jump at the obvious answer and say it would gain an additional kilogram of mass.

The truth is that the Earth-sand system would gain slightly less than a kilogram because of negative

gravitational potential energy. Using Newtonian physics as an approximation, with a dash of special

relativity, we can calculate the mass-equivalent of this negative potential energy. Refer to the sketch

below.

A mass, m, is suspended above the Earth from a cable connected

to a pulley. The mass does work, dE, when it is lowered by a

distance, dr. The Earth-m system loses energy as a result.

The incremental energy of the Earth-m system is

dE = mMG dr / r2

By slowly lowering the mass from R1 to R2, the change in

energy is computed by integrating the above equation.

E = MmG / (1 / R2 1 / R1)

Let R1 be a very great distance away, approaching infinity.

Lim E = mMG / R2

R1

m = E / c2 = MmG / R2 c2

We instantly recognize our good ol' friend the Schwarzschild radius, rs = 2MG / c2 , lurking in the

shadows, so we can rewrite the equation as a function of rs. Setting R2 = Re, the Earth's radius,

m = m rs / Re , where m is the missing mass erased by gravity

As we learned earlier, rs / Re is very small, and the missing mass turns out to be 6.796 10 10 kg, less

than one part per billion. This is negligible, and most people would ignore such a slight reduction in

mass when a planet or a star is assembled from parts transported from faraway. But it's only negligible

because gravity is fairly weak in this instance. What happens when a mass is lowered onto something

with much more gravity, say ahem a black hole?

Now I'm going to play Devil's advocate for a moment and presuppose that a black hole is just sitting

there. I have no idea when or how this thing was formed; all I know, from what the professional

physicists have told us, is that there's a spherical surface called an event horizon from which nothing

can escape. In order to analyze black holes, you need to invoke general relativity by using the exterior

Schwarzschild metric.

Now I'm going to propose a mass, m, is lowered onto the surface of a black hole very slowly, using a

- 40 -

pulley system like the one above, so I can ignore radial velocity terms. How much mass will the black

hole actually gain by this? I suspect it's going to be less than m, but by how much?

I went on the Internet to find an answer, and a thorough search produced all sorts of articles about

objects falling into black holes, space-time geodesics around black holes, etc., but virtually nothing

about slowly lowering something onto a black hole. I finally found exactly what I was looking for

buried in an article here. It's the formula for proper acceleration; i.e., an acceleration that exerts force

on an observer who dangles motionless some distance above the black hole. The formula is quite

similar to the Newtonian version, with a slight twist appearing in the denominator:

d2r / d2 = MG / ( r2 1 rs / r ) , where M is the total mass-energy contained within rs

The force on a dangling observer (which also produces tension on the cable attached to the pulley) is

equal to m times this acceleration. Notice that the force is infinite when r = rs, which is one of the

many peculiarities involving black holes. On the other hand, a free-falling observer supposedly won't

experience any acceleration at all, even while passing through this singularity; a proposition I find a bit

hard to accept as being physically real, but apparently that's what pops out of the equations.

Computing the energy of the black-hole system proceeds in the same manner as before.

dE = mMGdr / ( r2 1 rs / r )

Integrating the right side of the equation turns out to be very easy by changing variables: u = 1 rs / r,

and so

du / dr = rs / r2 dr / r2 = du / rs

dE = (mMG / rs ) u du

E = m (2MG / rs) ( 1 rs / R2 1 rs / R1 )

Setting R1 = and R2 = rs,

E = m (2MG / rs)

The mass-energy equivalency of special relativity still holds, so by dividing E by c2 we can find out

how much mass is effectively erased by negative gravitational potential. The answer is surprising:

m = m (2MG / rsc2 ) = m ( rs / rs) = m

In other words, a black hole doesn't gain any mass-energy by adding m to it, due to negative

gravitational potential completely canceling out m ! Now I realize that nobody would take assembling

a black hole using weights and pulleys seriously, but I don't think we lose any generality from the

simplification of making radial velocity zero. This raises an interesting question: If an existing black

hole doesn't gain any mass by lowering mass onto it, then how could it form in the first place?

This warning is attributed to the brilliant mathematician David Hilbert: Although infinity is needed to

complete mathematics, it occurs nowhere in the physical universe. I'm convinced that although black

holes are very interesting mathematical objects, they occur nowhere in the physical universe. As a

large star undergoes collapse and it approaches the size of its Schwarzschild radius, the negative

gravitational potential negates a significant portion of the star's total mass-energy, causing the

Schwarzschild radius to shrink. It's likely the star's shrinking radius chases but never actually catches

up to an ever-shrinking Schwarzschild radius that can never materialize into a true event horizon.

- 41 -

Appendix M Intriguing Parallels

Mathematicians and physicists have noted similarities between Einstein's field equations and mundane

things, such as solids. As everyone knows, matter comes in three basic forms: Gases, liquids, and

solids. Only solids are capable of supporting pressure, shear, and torsion stresses. The energy-pressure

tensor, T, has elements corresponding to pressure and shear, and if you include angular momentum

within this framework, you also find torsion hidden away in its asymmetrical off-diagonal elements.42

Hence, it's very tempting to equate space-time to a solid material. This wouldn't be the first time

thoughts like these have occurred to theorists.

Newton's corpuscular theory of light was replaced by a theory based on waves because corpuscles

couldn't explain certain phenomena like diffraction and polarization, whereas wave theory could. This

introduced the problem of finding a suitable medium to carry light waves. At first it was believed that

light waves were longitudinal, like sound waves, alternating between compressing the medium and

expanding it along the direction of propagation. Eventually, it was realized that polarization required

the waves to be transverse instead of longitudinal. Maxwell's equations were the icing on the cake,

showing that light is an electromagnetic wave with E and B components perpendicular to each other

and also perpendicular to the direction of propagation. This requires a medium that can support shear

forces: In other words, a solid. But not just any solid. This material had to have incredible subtlety,

able to fit inside the spaces between atoms and not impede the motion of planets, and yet possess a

mechanical stiffness far greater than wrought iron. This was a real head scratcher for many years until

Einstein showed through special relativity that no such medium was necessary. What I'm trying to say

is that something being mathematically similar to something else space-time being similar to a solid

in certain respects doesn't necessarily mean the two are physically the same thing.

Others have gone down similar paths. Theoretical physicist Thanu Padmanabhan pointed out that the

solution of the generalized form of the Schwarzschild metric at the horizon can be interpreted as the

familiar equation for entropy, T dS = dE + P dV, where T is temperature in this equation.

Generalized GR Metric: ds2 = f(r) dt2 f 1(r) dr2 r2 (d2 + sin2 d2)

Let B f ' (a) with (c4 / 2G) (B a 1) = Trr 4 a2 derived from the Einstein field equation.

Solution at the Horizon (r = a): ( c B / 4) (c3 / G ) d ( 4 a2 ) c4 da / G = Trr d (4/3 a3)

Based on this equivalence, Padmanabhan compares the mechanical and thermodynamic properties of

space-time to those of a solid, even suggesting that space-time is comprised of atoms. At this point,

Padmanabhan's theory veers off into exotic areas about which I'm unable to comment further.

Other theorists, notably Jacob Bekenstein and Stephen Hawking, have concluded that the second law of

thermodynamics demands that black holes possess entropy, S. This is expressed by the Bekenstein-

Hawking formula:

S = k A / 4l2 , where l = G /c3 (the Planck length), k = Boltzmann's constant, and A = the area of the

black hole's surface, or event horizon.

42 This increases the number of simultaneous non-linear differential equations to be solved from ten to sixteen.

- 42 -

As you should be well aware by now, I don't believe black holes are real, physical objects. However,

the Bekenstein-Hawking hypothesis could still apply as an expression of the maximal entropy

contained by any region of space, being proportional to the area of the surface enclosing the region.

This has led to the holographic principle, which postulates our entire 3-D universe as encoded as a

hologram imprinted on a 2-D boundary or horizon surrounding it. I personally think it would be a

serious mistake to expect to find an actual 2-D holographic boundary surrounding the universe

somewhere out in deep space. The radical relativism of the universe forbids the existence of any such

boundary since it would establish preferred locations in space; namely locations at or near the

boundary. One of the many reasons I don't believe that black holes are physical objects is because their

so-called event horizons would represent boundaries separating universe from non-universe.

The Bekenstein-Hawking hypothesis does bring up an interesting corollary; namely that gravity is a

property of space-time emerging along with (and because of) entropy. The second law of

thermodynamics states that the entropy of a closed system cannot decrease. I would go a step further

by stating there is an irrepressible tendency for the universe to maximally increase entropy over time.43

Thus, geodesics through space-time in the presence of matter are paths objects will follow in order to

maximize the total entropy of the universe.

To illustrate this, imagine two black holes of mass M1 and M2 separated by a great distance. The

surface area of an event horizon is (approximately) 4 rs2, where rs = 2 GM / c2. The entropy of a black

hole is proportional to its surface area, A; therefore, S is proportional to the square of the mass, M.

S1 = M12 and S2 = M2 2 , where = 4 G k / c

When separated, the total entropy of the black holes is ST = S1 + S2 = (M12 + M2 2). If the black holes

are allowed to merge, the total entropy is ST ' = (M1 + M2) 2 = ST + 2 M1 M2; thus, the merger

increased their total entropy by the amount 2 M1 M2. This suggests the reason why the two black

holes merged in the first place is because this maximally increased their total entropy. It can be shown

that entropy increases as any two masses approach each other even before they actually merge, giving

rise to the apparent attractive force of gravity. The geodesics of free-falling bodies could be

reinterpreted using the Lagrangian method based on maximally increasing entropy.

Erik Verlinde is the champion of entropic gravity. His first paper44 on this topic was somewhat

rudimentary, deriving Newton's simple laws of gravity and inertia from the premise of gravity being an

entropic force, F = T dS / dx, although we know gravity isn't a real force. Verlinde has embellished the

theory quite a bit since 2010, and I think it's quite possible that eventually general relativity may

become an approximation to a complete theory of entropic gravity, just as Newton's theory of gravity is

an approximation to general relativity.

One of the important advantages of entropic gravity is that it eliminates the need to introduce jerry-built

dark matter to explain why the rotational speeds of disk galaxies per Newton/Einstein formulas don't

match data from astronomical observations.45 In December, 2016 a team of astronomers from Leiden

Observatory in The Netherlands reported that they confirmed Verlinde's theory without needing any

dark matter by measuring gravitational lensing around 33,000 galaxies.

43 This is equivalent to increasing the number of degrees of freedom of the universe or increasing the amount of

information contained in the universe.

44 The paper On the Origin of Gravity and the Laws of Newton was submitted January 6, 2010, and it was greeted by a

firestorm of criticism from the scientific establishment. Nevertheless, Verlinde has persisted in his single-minded goal

of developing a more comprehensive theory of gravity based on entropy.

45 Refer to Emergent Gravity and the Dark Universe submitted November 8, 2016.

- 43 -

Appendix N It's Not a Bug It's a Feature

Nature has a hard time communicating with us. By necessity, the universe has to retain its radical

relativistic properties, meaning it has to be 100% self-contained and self-referential without any

boundary or exterior. At the same time, it must present itself to every observer as being absolutely

symmetrical without any preferred time, or direction, or location in space. Entropy and information are

maximized over time as the universe evolves into more complex states. Since entropy is inversely

proportional to curvature, an unfurling universe is getting flatter. But a symmetrical universe must

always appear flat; otherwise any measurable curvature would point toward a preferred direction. In

short, Nature is trying to persuade us that all of the following statements are true.

1. The universe has three spatial dimensions projecting toward infinity;

2. The universe is finite because it's expanding;

3. The universe is unbounded because it's complete unto itself;

4. The universe has no measurable curvature because it's perfectly symmetric;

5. The universe is becoming flatter due to increasing entropy.

The universe may have some of the attributes on the list, but we're convinced it cannot have all of them

at the same time. Thus, cosmologists seem to think Nature is full of bugs, and they call one of those

bugs the flatness problem. This stems from the fact that according to the big bang model, the

universe must have been incredibly fine-tuned for an apparent curvature of precisely zero. This relates

to a parameter, , the mass-energy density of the universe. The value of changes over time, so for

the universe to be flat today, had to be set to an initial value with incredible precision. A deviation of

one part in 1062 in that initial value would have caused the present state of the universe to be highly

curved. To correct this apparent bug, cosmologists came up with a novel inflation solution.

According to the inflation theory, the universe initially expanded at a ridiculously rapid rate, which

smoothed out all the space-time wrinkles in our little corner of the universe and rendered it ultra-flat.

In my opinion, flatness isn't a bug it's a feature. In fact, all five of the attributes on the above list are

true, but our puny little brains are unable to grasp the full significance of this. We humans are always

trying to build mental models of our world resembling 3-dimensional dioramas. Such models served us

well while humans were evolving on the African savannah. If there were a lion crouching in the grass

on the left with a tree providing safety on the right, we could deduce if we could reach that tree before

the lion reaches us by solving three distances in our heads: Lion to us, us to tree, lion to tree. The

reason this works is because we can assume simultaneity of information coming from the lion and the

tree when distances are small; however, when we try to apply the same approach to galaxies billions of

light years apart, our diorama model breaks down completely because there is no such thing as

simultaneity over those vast distances. Looking out into deep space means looking back at information

generated when the universe was younger you can't observe simultaneous information across large

distances or infer such simultaneity even exits.

In other words, we see the universe as a hall of mirrors because of constraints imposed by the law of

causality, the inherent self-contained one-ness of the universe, and an absolute requirement that the

universe present itself to all observers as being perfectly flat and symmetrical. This leads to the

impression that there are bugs in Nature that require us to apply ad hoc solutions, when the real

problem is us misinterpreting what Nature is trying to reveal about Herself.

- 44 -

Appendix O Contemplations at Owl's Head

I highly recommend visiting the Owl's Head Transportation Museum, near Rockport, Maine, if you're

ever in that vicinity. The museum displays some amazing vintage cars that actually run, along with

quite a few vintage airplanes, some of which can actually be taken out and flown. One amusing

example of a flying machine on display has a steam engine powering four rectangular wings that flap

up and down. Real bird feathers were glued to the surfaces of those wings, presumably to enhance

their lift. The museum also has a full-scale replica of the Wright Flyer, which was the first aeroplane to

achieve level powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903. The big question early aviators

faced was how the heck they were going to steer their contraptions once they became airborne. This

was a moot point in most cases because they never left the ground, but it remained an open question

until the Wright brothers discovered pitch, roll, and yaw. Boats and dirigibles turn using rudders,

performing 100% yaw maneuvers, and some early aeroplane designs did include rudders for turning.46

A bird in flight doesn't turn that way; instead, she raises her outside wing and lowers her inside wing,

banking into the turn while performing a roll/yaw maneuver. The 1903 Flyer copied the birdlike

maneuver using a wing warping mechanism to increase lift on the outside wing and decrease lift on the

inside wing, using the rudder only to compensate for negative yaw produced by the turn.47

The Wrights' innovation of combining control of pitch, roll and yaw was revolutionary, making all

previous heavier-than-air designs obsolete. While contemplating this at Owl's Head, it occurred to me

that Einstein field equations have all seven degrees of freedom of the universe analogous to pitch, roll

and yaw embedded in the energy/pressure/shear/torsion tensor, but theorists arbitrarily constrain the

solutions, eliminating torsion by making the off-diagonal elements of T symmetrical. It's almost as if

objects are made to follow geodesic paths through space-time by placing them on physical rails that

prevent them from twisting though the turns. This seems very artificial and unnatural to me, like

steering an airplane using only its rudder, and not at all like anything Nature would allow. This makes

me wonder if relaxing this arbitrary constraint might make a difference, in say the Schwarzschild

solution, especially when r rs. Would removing all constraints allow sixteen differential equations to

emerge instead of ten? Would those additional equations make an additional term appear in the

denominator of the metric that prevents the dreaded mathematical singularity from forming?

46 That's if the designers even thought that far ahead. Many of the early designs appear to have lacked any means of

control whatsoever.

47 Increasing lift on the outside wing increases drag on that wing, tending to make an airplane yaw away from the turn.

Thus, the pilot has to compensate for this by forcing the tail to rotate in the direction of the turn.

- 45 -

Appendix P Repulsive Gravity?

In Appendix L, we discovered that if a weight were slowly lowered onto a black hole from a great

distance, its mass would be completely erased by negative gravitational energy. This appendix explores

what happens when a mass is simply released some distance from a large, spherical object and allowed

to follow a geodesic path in free fall. The answer is kind of surprising.

Let's say the large, spherical object in question is not a black hole, but rather an object that is fairly

close to being one, having an outer radius equal to 1.5 times the Schwarzschild radius, rs. As long as

we're in empty space beyond the sphere's outer radius, we can still apply the exterior Schwarzschild

metric. In Chapter 6.7 of his excellent book, Reflections on Relativity, Kevin Brown derives the

geodesics of test masses released near rs based on the exterior Schwarzschild metric. The interesting

thing about these geodesics is that the radial acceleration is not just a function of the distance from the

center of the spherical mass, r, as it is according to Newtonian physics; with general relativity, the

radial acceleration also depends on the initial distance, R, from which the test mass is released! Here's

the formula Brown derived for the radial acceleration of a free-falling test mass:

ar = (G M / r2 ) (1 rs / r) [3 (1 rs / r) / (1 rs / R) 2]

When R the formula reduces to ar = (G M / r2 ) (1 rs / r) (1 3 rs / r), and something very strange

happens when the test mass gets close to the sphere . The normalized acceleration, ar / ( G M / r2 ),

starts out positive and becomes negative when r < 3.0 rs ! The normalized plot below shows the region

of negative acceleration by the red curve. The dotted line is the surface of the sphere at r = 1.5 rs.

A free-falling observer measuring his acceleration using distances based on Schwarzschild coordinates

and the proper time on his clock would see his rate of acceleration start out at the Newtonian value, but

it would steadily decline as he approaches the sphere, becoming negative when r < 3.0 rs. One could

interpret this negative acceleration as a repulsive gravitational force emanating from the sphere. As in

every case involving free fall, the observer doesn't feel any physical sensations caused by changing

acceleration. Also, the negative acceleration is too little and too late to reverse the direction of his fall,

- 46 -

although the final collision with the sphere would be softened a little by it.

What are we to make of this? Well for one thing, it appears there is more to gravitation than just the

curvature of space-time caused by the gravity maker; the effect of the curvature on the test mass also

depends on the state of motion of the test mass itself. In other words, gravitation is conditional, which

belies the long-standing assumption that gravitation acts on all bodies exactly the same way.48 Or as

Isaac Newton expressed it,

If bodies, moved in any manner among themselves, are urged in the direction of parallel lines by equal

accelerative forces, they will all continue to move among themselves, after the same manner as if they had not

been urged by those forces.

Was Newton wrong and Aristotle right after all? I think the problem stems from thinking of gravity

as a being a force. It's important to remember that gravity is a geodesic, not a force. A geodesic

is a function defining the optimal path or motion of an object in free fall from point A to point B. In

the absence of other forces, this particular motion maximizes the proper time experienced by the

object going from A to B. When an object is released the vicinity of a gravitating sphere where

r >> rs, the geodesic of a falling object exhibits an inward acceleration inversely proportional to the

square of the distance. But as space-time curvature becomes extreme, the acceleration is reduced

and can even reverse direction in order to maximize the proper times of falling objects. In other

words, under the right circumstances, maximizing the proper time of an object falling from A to B

might require subjecting the object to what appears to be repulsive gravity.

Are there other circumstances where gravity behaves like it's repulsive? Andrew Thomas in his book

Hidden in Plain Sight 2: The Equation of the Universe proposes that we're living in the interior of a

giant black hole, and that gravity is repulsive inside black holes. I personally don't go along with his

black hole concept, but I think there is a grain of truth about gravity being repulsive on cosmological

scales. It boils down to the fact that maximizing proper time along a geodesic is equivalent to

accumulating the most entropy along the path. In other words, the fundamental objective of every

geodesic in the universe is to accumulate maximum entropy. On small scales, this is accomplished by

having geodesics of neighboring objects converge, giving the appearance of a mutual gravitational

attraction. On cosmological scales, the best way to maximize entropy is to have the entire universe

expand freely like air escaping from a bursting balloon. Expansion reduces the cosmological curvature

of the universe,49 which is inversely proportional to its entropy. Expansion causes geodesics of large-

scale structures, such as widely-separated galaxy clusters, to diverge from one another, like people in a

crowded theater all heading toward different exits after the performance ends.

Erik Verlinde puts forth a similar idea in his paper Emergent Gravity and the Dark Universe. He

notes that when the acceleration of a body in orbit is large, gravity obeys the familiar inverse-square

law. But when orbital acceleration is reduced to a0 c H0, a threshold is crossed and gravity seems to

obey a different law, being inversely proportional to the radius instead of the radius squared. Dark

matter thrown into the mix might preserve the inverse-square law, but Verlinde insists this isn't

necessary; instead, we must realize gravity behaves differently for tiny orbital accelerations. He

believes, as I do, that it all has to do with maximizing entropy. What works best in one situation

doesn't work best in all situations, and there even may be situations where gravity is repulsive.

48 This goes way back to Galileo's experiments at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, circa 1590, when he demonstrated that two

spheres of different weights fall at the same rate.

49 The cosmological curvature of the universe isn't observable or measurable by us inhabitants because the universe

presents itself to all free-falling observers as being perfectly flat. Appearing to be flat while having an inherent

curvature is just one of the amazing features of the universe we live in.

- 47 -

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