The law of gravity, which was invented by a hooker-chasing 17th century alchemist, is apparently old hat these days.
While Newton’s law can pilot a space craft to the corners of the solar system and helped work out how New Zealanders hang on to a rapidly spinning globe, it is not good enough for a new generation of scientists.
In an interview with the New York Times, Dr Erik Verlinde claims that gravity does not exist.
Verlinde, 48, is a string theorist, which is an idea that the universe is made up of bits of string and the purpose of life is to untangle it. He is also professor of physics at the University of Amsterdam, which is such a flat place that gravity is pretty much part of daily life.
However, his paper that concludes gravity is an illusion has caused a continuing ruckus among respectable physicists who have been dining out on falling Apple stories for centuries – much like TechEye has for the last six months.
In a paper with the catchy title On the Origin of Gravity and the Laws of Newton, he said that gravity is a consequence of the venerable laws of thermodynamics, which describe the behaviour of heat and gases.
He said boffins should be looking at the way gravity “emerges”. His theory is that it comes about in much the same way that stock markets emerge from the collective behaviour of individual investors or that elasticity emerges from the mechanics of atoms.
According to the New York Times, this is like the reasons your hair gets frizzy in the heat and humidity. Since there are more ways for your hair to be curled than to be straight, and nature likes options.
So it takes a force to pull hair straight and eliminate nature’s options.
Basically if you shuffle a box of Scrabble letters enough, disorder will go away and you will pull out all the words in this article [isn’t that how you wrote it anyway? Ed]. That random order is “gravity”.
It seems that Douglas Adams got it right after all.