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Science

The End Of Gravity As a Fundamental Force 650

Posted by kdawson
from the mccavity's-not-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes "At a symposium at the Dutch Spinoza-instituut on 8 December, 2009, string theorist Erik Verlinde introduced a theory that derives Newton's classical mechanics. In his theory, gravity exists because of a difference in concentration of information in the empty space between two masses and its surroundings. He does not consider gravity as fundamental, but as an emergent phenomenon that arises from a deeper microscopic reality. A relativistic extension of his argument leads directly to Einstein's equations." Here are two blog entries discussing Verlinde's proposal in somewhat more accessible terms.
Update: 01/12 04:48 GMT by KD : Dr. Verlinde has put up a blog post explaining in simpler terms the logic of the gravity from entropy paper. He introduces it with: "Because the logic of the paper is being misrepresented in some reports, I add here some clarifications."
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The End Of Gravity As a Fundamental Force

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  • by XanC (644172) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:31PM (#30716674)

    But it sure sounds promising.

    • And even if it's not true, if the math works, it still might be useful. Newton's and Einstein's theories aren't strictly "true" but they are incredibly useful despite that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by v1 (525388)

        That's one funny thing about math, "close doesn't count", until you get to a certain advanced point. Then we say "this works for all but a few special cases... close enough."

        • by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:11PM (#30717028)

          The one funny thing about the way the majority of people use math, "close does count", until you get to a certain advanced point. Then we say "this works for all but a few special cases... close enough"

          Obviously Newtonian gravity is much more understandable to your average person than say general relativity and also offers a good aproximation of expected behaviors of the physical world.

          • by patiodragon (920102) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @07:13PM (#30718114) Homepage

            The one funny thing about the way the majority of people use math, "close does count", until you get to a certain advanced point. Then we say "this works for all but a few special cases... close enough"

            Obviously Newtonian gravity is much more understandable to your average person than say general relativity and also offers a good aproximation of expected behaviors of the physical world.

            I'd say there is a good chance it is all one Unified Field. When including torque in Einstein's equations (and not assuming you are locked on the spinning object), this guy's solution works from the micro to the macro. Check it out.

            http://www.theresonanceproject.org/ [theresonanceproject.org]

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by exploder (196936)

              Instead of seeing ourselves as separate from everything around us, this view allows us to recognize that we are embedded in a fractal feedback dynamic that intrinsically connects all things via the medium of a vacuum structure of infinite potential. This research has far reaching implications in a variety of fields including theoretical and applied physics, cosmology, quantum mechanics, biology, chemistry, sociology, psychology, archaeology, anthropology,

              My bullshit detector just asplode.

        • by node 3 (115640) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:36PM (#30717244)

          That's one funny thing about math, "close doesn't count", until you get to a certain advanced point.

          I didn't realize irrational numbers, a huge portion of the rational numbers, and trigonometry, were considered advanced.

          But this really isn't about the *math* being close, but not exact, it's about the math being close to *reality*, but not exact. Again, however, this is not advanced. Even grade school science is close but not exact. What's the temperature outside? How many inches of water did it rain last night? What's the circumference of the Earth? And Newtonian physics (which is also not advanced) is close, but not exact. Even at the slow speeds and low gravities of our mundane lives. Special and General Relativity have the honor *not* of being exact, but merely of being closer to exact than anything else so far.

          The only common types of math where "close doesn't count" are basic arithmetic (excepting fractions) and pure algebraic manipulation.

          In your high school physics class, do you *really* think you were exact when you used 186,000 mi/s or 300,000 km/s for the speed of light? Or in grade school, that the Earth rotates in exactly 24 hours (as measured from solar zenith to solar zenith)?

          Or even before that, when you bought one candy bar at 3 for a dollar, and you got 66 cents in change?

          Precision and accuracy are two terms you should have been made aware of by high school science, and rounding errors by middle school math.

          • by MrNaz (730548) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:58PM (#30717476) Homepage

            You're muddling the distinction between the concept of exact measurement with exact model.

            When we say that Newtonian physics is "about" right, we're saying that, given the properties of the area of the physical world we inhabit (about sea level on an Earth sized planet), Newtonian physics is a model that can predict the behavior of bodies in motion pretty accurately. Relativity theory models those same bodies more accurately, and in a wider area of application. In this way, our models of the universe could be said to be asymptotically approaching "correctness".

            When we say that the speed of light is "about" 3 x 10^8 m/s, everybody but the most retarded physics students know that it's not exactly that, but that that number is close enough that it's usable. Same as saying pi = 3.141 and g = 9.81 ms^-2 at sea level on Earth. Those are imprecise but "close enough" approximations of natural constants which do not have integer values, so we just truncate them to the desired level of accuracy for the current use. I don't need pi to a hundred places to be able to triangulate the hats on the sports oval for the experiment in 10th grade. Hell, pi to eleven places will calculate Earth's circumference to within a millimeter, which is "accurate enough" for pretty much all everyday uses.

            Don't mix these two concepts, a model can be 100% accurate even if we are incapable of measuring fully, and vice versa.

        • Limit of knowledge (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Roger W Moore (538166) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:51PM (#30717390) Journal

          Then we say "this works for all but a few special cases... close enough."

          Actually we don't - we just say that we don't know any way to do it better and it seems to work outside of these cases....so until someone can come up with something better we'll go with the best we have.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by timmarhy (659436)
          actually some pretty fundamental parts of newtons original assumptions didn't work, which is what lead einstien to create his theory's.

          one key one was newton's assumption that the effect of gravity was instant.

        • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @10:35PM (#30719312)

          As part of a psychological experiment, two single men, a physicist and mathematician, were placed in an otherwise empty room with a beautiful naked women at the far end.

          They were instructed that they'd be allowed to close half the distance to the women every 10 minutes. Disgusted at the obvious subterfuge, the mathematician walked away in disgust. But the physicist stayed behind, occasionally glancing at his watch.

          The experimenters looked puzzled, then asked the physicist, "You do realize, of course, that mathematically speaking, you can never actually reach the woman?"

          "Naturally", replied the physician, looking up. "But I can sure get close enough for all practical purposes!"

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ceoyoyo (59147)

          I didn't realize $4.99 + tax was advanced math. We almost always use math in a close enough context. Close doesn't count in pure math, but as soon as you apply it to something real you're always talking about close enough.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:44PM (#30716774)

        Well, it does make a jump from a fundamental force we can't seem to detect into a latent, emergent phenomenon which we, er, also can't detect the source of.

        So it transfers one critical unknown into a less important, impossible to verify unknown. Then it links up with Relativity somehow. Not exactly a "theory of everything".

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MightyMartian (840721)

          Indeed. Until there is some confirmation of string theory, it, and anything extrapolated from it, while interesting in an academic sense, is ultimately meaningless in an empirical sense.

          • by Rockoon (1252108) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:26PM (#30717156)
            There is a difference between assigning names to things and understanding them. While we have loads of empirical stuff to back up our theories, not a single one of those theories is grounded in actual understanding. This is true for string theory, for the theory of relativity, for quantum electrodynamics, and on and on.

            Even the simple things that you take for granted, such as Inertia, is not understood. Nobody can explain why there is Inertia, or what mechanisms makes it a requirement.

            What is important is that we can model things. If two such models fit observations, then there is no reason to dismiss one of them (such as string theory) out of hand. In the end, neither model is truth. Model's can't explain "why."
            • by steve_bryan (2671) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:12PM (#30717600)

              Any child can (and often does) ask the question "Why?" repeatedly past anyone's endurance. That does not mean the respondent does not understand anything. Also sometimes one is simply not well informed. For instance the question of why there is inertia is addressed by the work of Higgs and the theoretical Higgs boson. One of the main stated goals of the LHC in Europe is to have collisions energetic enough to get experimental verification of the Higgs boson.

              • by Rockoon (1252108) on Monday January 11, 2010 @05:51AM (#30721134)

                For instance the question of why there is inertia is addressed by the work of Higgs and the theoretical Higgs boson.

                No, it isnt addressed by it. This is just another theoretical model.

                In the case of gravity, begin with Newton.

                F = Gm'm"/d^2

                This is a model. This does not explain why there is gravity. The fact that we eventually found instances that contradict it lead to another model, general relativity. General relativity doesnt explain why there is gravity either, and we have since found cases where this model too many not hold ('dark energy'.) The Higgs wont dig us out of this lack of understanding, because nobody understands why things at these scales (see the photon) behave the way they do.

                120 years ago things were thought to be much simpler. Proton, Electron, and then Photon. That was it. Back then we could at least understand the models, but understanding the model is not the same as understanding reality (obviously, since we were wrong.) Now we have quantum theory and particles behaving like waves (or maybe its waves behaving like particles) culminating in the situation that nobody really even understands how reality could even be like the models.

                The model is all we have, and its not a description of reality, but instead a tool to predict observation.

                With a good enough model I can tell you where every pool ball on the table will end up. That model need not represent the reality that the pool balls are made up of trillions of atoms each made up of quarks and electrons, that the balls bounce against each other because the individual electrons repel each other while also binding atoms together, that the amount of kinetic energy (heat) in the balls will change, that even the shape of the balls changes as they move.

                The pro-pool player need not understand what is really going on to make the shot. His model, just like the model with individual atoms, is just a tool to make predictions. The little boy can ask "why" and the adult can answer, but that answer is not actually correct.

                Why do things in motion tend to stay in motion? Nobody knows! We call it Inertia.

          • by Goaway (82658)

            This theory has nothing to do with string theory.

        • by node 3 (115640) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:47PM (#30717356)

          Well, it does make a jump from a fundamental force we can't seem to detect into a latent, emergent phenomenon which we, er, also can't detect the source of.

          *EVERYTHING* in the universe is based on some fundamental thing which we "cannot detect the source of". Even something as simple as math, or logic, is based on a set of axioms, or givens, which can never, themselves, be explained in terms of where they come from.

          In physics, things like quarks (or if there's something that makes those, then that thing), or the fundamental forces, are all currently unexplained regarding why or how they exist.

          What this work does (or at least, claims to do) is connect gravity with the rest of physics.

          But your opening line is actually quite wrong:

          Well, it does make a jump from a fundamental force we can't seem to detect into a latent, emergent phenomenon which we, er, also can't detect the source of.

          Not at all. Presently, gravity is an axiom. It is a thing that exists, and upon which much is built, but below which nothing can be known. With this theory, gravity is just like things built upon gravity (such as orbits, gravitational singularities, etc.), which can all be explained by something below them. At some point, everything ends up as an axiom. This theory removes one of science's present axiom, and any time you can do that, you've done nothing less than fundamentally enhanced our understanding of the universe.

      • by Myopic (18616)

        Have we conclusively shown that relativity isn't quite exactly right? Or do you just mean that relativity hasn't been rectified with quantum mechanics?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JaWiB (963739)
        My understanding of an "entropic force" is that it can be described in terms of fundamental forces. The pressure in an ideal gas, for instance, can be derived by looking at the impulse created by a single molecule, and then extending that to a collection of N molecules. This guy seems to be saying that gravity is an entropic force and therefore NOT a fundamental force, but it seems to me that entropic forces are just an abstraction that allows us to ignore the underlying fundamental forces. Of course, I di
    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:59PM (#30716926) Journal
      If the math works, then "shut up and calculate" (ascribed to both Dirac and Feynman regarding quantum mechanics). Non-mathematical forms of understanding may follow, eventually, perhaps even including opinions on "truth". If the math does not work, the hypothesis will be quickly abandoned or revised.
      • by thue (121682) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:47PM (#30717350) Homepage

        "shut up and calculate" is attributed to David Mermin [wikipedia.org] according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] (which sites an article behind a login)

        • by mako1138 (837520) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @08:24PM (#30718652)

          It looks like I have access, so I'll summarize the article. This is the May 2004 "Reference Frame" column in Physics Today, written by David Mermin, titled "Could Feynman Have Said This?"

          Mermin came across something that ascribed "shut up and calculate" to Feynman, and was somewhat disturbed. Mermin had written in Physics Today (April 1989) that "If I were forced to sum up in one sentence what the Copenhagen interpretation says to me, it would be "Shut up and calculate!" Therefore he was worried that he perhaps had absorbed the quotation from Feynman at some point, and then used it in his article without proper attribution.

          So he embarked on a Google search, finding lots of hits having the quotation as Feynman's, and none for Mermin. But then he realized that none of the web material cited any sources or told the "story" of the quotation. So he thinks he may be a victim of the "Matthew effect," from the "tendency always to assign exclusive scientific credit to the most eminent among all the plausible candidates." In other words, somehow the quotation got attached to Feynman, who is well known for his work in QM.

          Next Mermin examines whether or not the witticism actually matches Feynman's personality. He concludes that it doesn't; however Feynman's "habitual irreverence" is probably a factor.

          In closing, Mermin lays claim to the saying and awaits evidence that Feynman actually said it.

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:00PM (#30716942) Journal
      Indeed. The truth is, it is all a dream. My dream, in fact. It all emanates from me, I designed it all based on what you know as mathematical principles.

      That assertion can also never be proved wrong, and it is mathematically sound.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mad_minstrel (943049)
      A theory is as good as its predictive power. If it predicts reality better than the previous one, who cares if it's "true", whatever that may mean.
    • by Zarf (5735) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:20PM (#30717116) Journal

      I do like the idea of not needing an explanatory tool like "Dark Energy" ... that has always bothered me. Far more than "Dark Matter".

    • Information (Score:5, Funny)

      by Joren (312641) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:55PM (#30717446) Homepage

      In his theory, gravity exists because of a difference in concentration of information in the empty space between two masses and its surroundings.

      So... information wants to be free?

  • by Interoperable (1651953) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:40PM (#30716738)

    I couldn't begin to assess how plausible this theory is; neither could most of the people on Slashdot. However, I do know the arXiv is not a peer-reviewed journal, which mean that we can't even rely on the peer-review system to gain information on how sound the underlying research is. Many excellent publications appear on arXiv before being published in excellent journals, but some fairly questionable research ends up there as well.

    Rather than post completely uninformed comments on the subject, leave that to people in the field.

    • by drakaan (688386) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:48PM (#30716804) Homepage Journal
      ...but since the articles are publicly available, doesn't that mean that they can be more widely reviewed than traditional peer-reviewed papers?

      It didn't sound like it was research, but rather mathematical theory based on looking at existing principles from a different direction. If there is enough underlying research in newtonian physics and general relativity, then wouldn't that same research also apply here?

      Granted, I'm no mathematician, but it just seems a bit cliquish to say "don't pay attention to this" because of where the first publication is happening.

      • by Myopic (18616) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:25PM (#30717150)

        Hmmm, I don't think "peer review" can be satisfied by "amateur review". Amateurs can sometimes make some interesting contributions, but not usually.

      • by thrawn_aj (1073100) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:51PM (#30717906)
        Well, that's a little bit like saying, "I lost a quarter over there by the wall, but I'm searching here because it's got better lighting". :-) But yes, in all seriousness you raise a valid point that it could be better reviewed this way but you have to ask - by whom? The whole idea of peer review is that you get "peers", who (provably) know a little something about the field. If you've ventured into the surreal world of physics fora on the intertubes, you will understand my reluctance to put any stock on such "open" reviewing.

        Your criticism of "cliquishness(?)" would be valid if people were saying that you should grant Nature a greater benefit of the doubt as compared to Journal of Physics but the fact is that Arxiv is non-peer-reviewed and I've seen some doozies on there on par with the awesomely funny crap I get at my university email address (the crackpots mass mail their delusions to the entire faculty/grad student directory at large universities :-), a boon for a collector such as myself I must say!).

        Having said all this, I have been given to understand (by my colleagues in high-energy theory - arguably the most prolific field on Arxiv) and I paraphrase here, that Arxiv is more like a bulletin board where they can pass ideas back and forth on far shorter time scales than in traditional publications. But when it comes to ideas that (they feel) have survived the maelstrom of brainstorming, the final product must be published in a peer reviewed journal as a first step (of many many many more) to entering the field's gestalt.

        Think of Arxiv as Wikipedia's sandbox if you will ;-).
      • by notjim (879031) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:54PM (#30717930)
        It is worth noting that these days _all_ theoretical physics papers appear on arXiv first; it is at this point that they are usually disseminated and discussed and publication in a peer review journal is a post-hoc event. Theoretical physicists typically judge a paper by reading it and based on the reputation of the author, Erik Verlinde's is very high, they generally ignore peer-review.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you've spent any time in academia, you'd know that peer review is a cruel joke.

      It's more politics than science. It doesn't matter which country you're in, nor which college, university or lab you're affiliated with. It's all about making sure your paper says the right things to support the fucks (your "peers") who have managed to trick various corporate and government officials into giving them the large grants, especially when their research is total crap. Otherwise, you're ostracized.

      After years of see

      • by iluvcapra (782887) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:56PM (#30717960)
        What's your degree in? Ecofeminism, or postmodern comparative religion?
      • by thrawn_aj (1073100) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @07:03PM (#30718010)
        When someone says "academia" when they should say "my field" my bullshit sensors light up like crazy. Ironically, your posting as AC shows the fundamental flaw (EVEN in principle) in non peer-reviewed journals.

        And industry has stopped doing original research for a long time now. I've heard tales of woe aplenty from people in so-called "R&D" departments who complain that development times greater than a presidential term of office are simple laughed at in industry these days. Industry has come a long way (mostly hellward :P) since the halcyon days of Bell Labs.

        There are many problems with the academic peer review process. The problem you allude to probably even exists in some fields. For the most part, clever researchers find a way around them and visionaries try daily to try to change things for the better. And then there some who ... leave academia, enter industry, get bored and post anonymous comments on message boards *cough*.
      • by MadMagician (103678) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @08:01PM (#30718508)

        If you've spent any time in academia, you'd know that peer review is a cruel joke.

        It's more politics than science.

        Somebody didn't get tenure.

        I didn't get tenure either, and there were serious political issues, the first time. But that's not a problem with peer review (which I still am asked to do, occasionally). Most PhD's never get tenure, at least not in a research university. Academia is one bitch of a career path.

        I still publish papers, in less-prestigious journals and conferences, mostly peer-reviewed. Some papers are turned down. So it goes...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by notshannon (704145)

        Let me echo this sentiment. I did my PhD in a esoteric corner of Number Theory. In my first position after graduate school, I submitted a number of papers. Waited a minimum of one year for rejections or impossible demands for revision. The handful of others in my area refused to collaborate with me. I left academia.

        Seven years later, a student of one of these people who refused to collaborate submits a paper,
        and somehow I get to be referee. I turned it around reasonably quick, rejected because it over

    • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:09PM (#30717012) Homepage

      Rather than post completely uninformed comments on the subject, leave that to people in the field.

      Awwww, don't we get to do anything? We have such expertize in giving completely uninformed comments, who else has such refined skill at not RTFA, probably not even the summary and yet comment as if it was the topic of our PhD thesis in a field we know nothing about? That sort of thing only comes through years of practice and non-studying. No I think we'll leave them to do the informed comments, for the truly abhorrent comments devoid of all facts, correctness and sanity they should leave it to professionals.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:41PM (#30716750) Homepage Journal

    At least half the comments on this story will boil down to one or more of the following:

    • String theory is bunk. I know this because I heard someone call it "string theology" once and I thought that was clever.
    • This idea is bunk because I think it contradicts something I vaguely remember from the Physics 101 course I took as a requirement for my CS degree ten years ago.
    • Modern physics is bunk because nothing can move in spacetime [rebelscience.org]. Visit my blog to learn the truth!
    • Everyone knows the unifying force that holds the universe together is not gravity, but electricity. [the-electr...verse.info] We have books [holoscience.com], too!
    • Ivory-tower egghead academics want to keep all their science locked away behind paywalls! How are we supposed to evaluate this if we can't read the paper [arxiv.org]?!?
    • Modern science is bunk. These stupid liberal academics should just read the Bible.
    • YOU ARE EDUCATED STUPID! [timecube.com]

    There. That should save everyone some time.

  • way cool (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drDugan (219551) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:42PM (#30716754) Homepage

    FTA:"Starting from first principles, using only space independent concepts like
    energy, entropy and temperature, it is shown that Newtons laws appear naturally and
    practically unavoidably. Gravity is explained as an entropic force caused by a change
    in the amount of information associated with the positions of bodies of matter. "

    and "... the holographic hypothesis provides
    a natural mechanism for gravity to emerge. It allows direct contact interactions
    between degrees of freedom associated with one material body and another, since all
    bodies inside a volume can be mapped on the same holographic screen."

    If this is proven correct - that gravity and inertia are emergent from information entropy
    and statistics, it would be very, very exciting if for no other reason than it would be yet
    another support (probably the strongest yet) for the holographic universe description /
    the 'reduced dimensionality' description. This could also resolve some of the impossibly
    inconsistent problems in physics integrating gravity with microscopic forces and spooky
    effects like action at a distance.

    So far all we've had to support a holographic universe is black hole physics and string
    theory conjectures.

    It's mind warping to imagine that the whole of our existence necessarily depends
    on encodings that are 2-dimensional in nature. If this is the case, what a world
    it would be. Philosophers and religious folk will argue over what that might mean.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by richdun (672214)

      Philosophers and religious folk will argue over what that might mean.

      And while they are all deciding whether God/god/Xenu programmed the universe via voice command or a PADD, I'll be working to convince the Creator that I am self-aware, thus securing a free warp-capable shuttlecraft!

      On a more serious note, as is always the case, this "new" line of thought seems to be a better description of something we observe, yet still constrained by our ability to model and describe things. As IANATP (I am not a theor

      • Re:way cool (Score:5, Interesting)

        by drDugan (219551) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:57PM (#30717458) Homepage

        what does this potentially bring us

        The paper posits that gravity is an entropic force, not a fundamental one. He does this by starting with the assumption of a reduced dimensionality universe with one emergent direction for space and shows that as a mass approaches the holographic boundary he can combine statistical mechanics equations and Einsteins equations for mass & energy (throw in a couple hand waves about average energy and degrees of freedom) and he derives Newton's laws and more.

        This is fundamentally a different view of how gravity, inertia and space arise compared to the current "fundamental forces" understanding in physics. An accurate and testable understanding of gravity could potentially lead to areas impossible to predict: anti-gravity, energy production, warping and changing space, usable action at a distance for communication or transportation.

        This is analogous to the shift in understanding when humans understood and then used the electrical force. Who could have dreamed before electric power of mobile phones, global Internet connectivity, HDTV, Twitter, Superbowl broadcasts, images from Mars, superconducting MRI coils, particle accelerators, etc. etc. A functional understanding of gravity could be even more revolutionary than the change in the human condition from understanding electricity.

        • Re:way cool (Score:4, Insightful)

          by quarterbuck (1268694) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:50PM (#30719670)
          It also seems to tie together arrow of time and gravity. The only accepted explanation for the fact that time is unidirectional is that entropy increases with time.By tying the concept of gravity and time together, this theory probably puts us closer to "Grand unified theory".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by maxwell demon (590494)

        what does this potentially bring us, other than that better description?

        Insight.

        You know us engineers will be snickering until you show us something we can do or make shiny with this.

        You know, when Newton figured out the fundamentals of physics, he didn't do so to produce new shiny toys, but to understand the universe. Newton was philosopher, not engineer.

  • Textbooks (Score:5, Funny)

    by marciot (598356) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:42PM (#30716760)

    Damn it. I knew I should have sold back my college Physics textbooks when I had the chance...

  • Golden ratio (Score:2, Redundant)

    by ylikone (589264)
    I have a gut feeling that golden ratio will fit into all this somewhere.
  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:47PM (#30716798) Homepage

    From http://www.scientificblogging.com/hammock_physicist/holographic_hot_horizons [scientificblogging.com] the first of the two blog entries:

    The value for G comes out correctly if you enter for Abit the value corresponding to a Planck area. However, the Planck area (G/c3) is defined in terms of Newton's gravitational constant G. Have we not introduced a circular reasoning here? I am actually not sure.

    This does seem like an issue. However, it looks like you can do this with G as a variable. The upshot then is not that you get the right value for G at the end but that you get Newton's inverse square law (up to a scalar) which by itself would be really impressive even if one can't a priori get the value of G.

    Obligatory disclaimer: I'm a math grad student not a physicist so I could be completely wrong here.

    • by TeknoHog (164938) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:28PM (#30717176) Homepage Journal

      The upshot then is not that you get the right value for G at the end but that you get Newton's inverse square law (up to a scalar) which by itself would be really impressive even if one can't a priori get the value of G.

      The inverse square relation comes easily from the fact of 3 spatial dimensions. The gravitational flux from a mass is spread out over a surface of a sphere, whose area is proportional to the square of the radius. It is a perfect analogy of electric fields.

      It is possible to derive the same form in many different ways. It is a nice exercise to play with alternative theories of gravity, and see how they are similar or different. However, general relativity has a crucial deviation from the inverse square law, which results in the anomalous orbit of Mercury, for example. This does not mean GR is the final correct answer, of course.

      • by bcrowell (177657)

        It is a nice exercise to play with alternative theories of gravity, and see how they are similar or different. However, general relativity has a crucial deviation from the inverse square law, which results in the anomalous orbit of Mercury, for example. This does not mean GR is the final correct answer, of course.

        This isn't really a correct interpretation. Although it's true that a slight deviation from 1/r2 in a force law will give you precession of perihelion like Mercury's, that isn't a correct way of

  • by uradu (10768) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:51PM (#30716838)

    "He does not consider gravity as fundamental, but as an emergent phenomenon that arises from a deeper microscropic reality."

    If that doesn't make you the life of the party in one fell swoop, NOTHING ever will.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:58PM (#30716920) Homepage Journal
    Like when you study information theory because don't like physics, and the basis of physic world, like gravitation, turns to be information theory.
  • by Sara Chan (138144) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:02PM (#30716960)
    Lubos Motl [wikipedia.org] (string theorist, formerly at Harvard), has recently blogged about this: http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/01/gravity-as-holographic-entropic-force.html [blogspot.com]. His conclusion is "I remain undecided".
  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:03PM (#30716970) Homepage

    I had this crazy idea about gravity. I've always though gravity was a "push" rather then a "pull". The way I see it, matter (quarks and other subatomic particles) doesn't occupy space/time, but rather displaces it. Meanwhile, space/time is trying displace the void that is matter. It's sort of like having a sheet of rubber and then creating a small pin prick in it. If I try hard enough, I could push my finger through it, but the rubber will try and displace that bigger hole I'm creating.

    Which leads me to a system of proportional displacement. If the distance of space/time is greater on the outside vs between two objects, they get "pushed" toward each other. However, if the distance of space/time between two objects becomes great enough, they pulled apart. Kind of like how galaxies coalesce stars, but galaxies them selves are so far away from each other, the entire universe gets expanded as we speak.

    Anyways, just may crazy messed up idea. No proof what-so-ever to back it up. Granted, I'm not ignorant to the real math a science we know today. After all, the written laws of physics is what gets us to the moon and mars. :)

  • by noidentity (188756) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:15PM (#30717068)

    In his theory, gravity exists because of a difference in concentration of information in the empty space between two masses and its surroundings.

    I think we could put this to the test in the real world. We could gather various entities, some of which are known to have a very low concentration of information, like marketing people and bureaucrats, and see whether they cause a local reduction in gravity.

  • "Hotblack Desiato's chief research accountant has recently been appointed Professor of Neomathematics at the University of Maximegalon, in recognition of both his General and his Special Theories of Disaster Area Tax Returns, in which he proves that the whole fabric of the space-time continuum is not merely curved, it is in fact totally bent."

  • by Werthless5 (1116649) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:48PM (#30717368)

    If gravity is truly not fundamental and works as described by the paper, then you can kiss the antigravity machine goodbye!

  • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:14PM (#30717610) Journal
    Will science leave me anything I learned in class ?
  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:17PM (#30719502) Homepage
    Cause let's just be honest, as a framework for understanding the universe, gravity is just a stone cold bitch that has no answers but lots of demands.
  • by OneSmartFellow (716217) on Monday January 11, 2010 @07:05AM (#30721384)
    ...gravity as gravy ?

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