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Weird Physics

Section 2 – Problems with Gravity – Unified Field Theory

The “Greats” of Quantum Mechanics struggled to find a “Universal” Field Theory.  This means one set of equations that explains both electrical fields and gravity at the same time.  They seem to be totally independent of each other, which flies in the face of the elegance of most physical phenomena.  Everything else fits together so perfectly.  Einstein went to his grave searching for a Unified Field Theory in vain.

This tells me, with the benefit of hindsight, that they were clinging to some assumption about how things work in the real world, that was based on the human experience that we know now is a myopic view of the big picture.  Join me in exploring what that error in assumptions might be.

In this series of several chapters, I will explore several such assumptions and the implications that come from discarding them.  I may or may not be as intelligent as the greats (I did earn a PhD in Physical Chemistry at Stanford) but I certainly have the benefit of standing on the shoulders of giants.  I was born after Hiroshima, and grew up in a world that knew Quantum Mechanics – they did not.  I have the position of hindsight, and can snipe at their work at my leisure.  Warning – I am not claiming my theory to be correct, just a viable alternative, and, being a type-N Myers-Briggs personality in a hurry, I will leave many of the details as an exercise for the student (or for me in my retirement).  I will also discuss the defensive close-mindedness of the modern physics community and why they react with such emotional violence to anything that upsets their apple cart.  These are ideas for your consideration, not enlightenment from on high.

Gravity – what do we really know?  In our human experience we see small objects fall down to the surface of planetary scale objects.  With the aid of telescopes we see that planetary objects attract each other in the same manner.  Let me rephrase that with the benefit of a modern understanding of the periodic chart.  We know that objects made of mixtures of protons and neutrons are attracted to each other.

Are we justified in broadening those claims to say all protons and neutrons are attracted to each other, in all combinations?  Let’s explore that.  By examining trajectories we know that both protons and neutrons are attracted to the earth.  Since gravity and inertia are always matched (hey, that’s a clue for later), we can’t make much of the tiny difference in the observed mass between a proton and a neutron – they both are attracted individually to a planetary (mixed isotope) body.

What about examples of pure protons?  We’re talking Hydrogen here – the only stable element that has just protons and no neutrons.  Most stable elements contain a mixture, roughly evenly matched, of protons and neutrons (and that’s a second clue).  Bare protons have a positive charge and the electronic repulsion is so strong that gravity is lost in the noise, so that’s no good.  We have to go with molecular hydrogen, H2, with no charge.  Can you imagine the difficulty of measuring the gravitational attraction between two human-scale hydrogen balloons?   Never mind the basic challenge of measuring something so small, you have to deal with buoyancy, static electricity, van-der-waals attraction, contamination by other compounds, and a host of other things.  On an astronomic scale?  Yes, we see hydrogen clouds orbiting planetary objects, but has anybody really seen two hydrogen clouds attracted to each other?  Astronomical observations are so crude, and massive objects so hard to see except by their gravitational effect, I don’t believe an unequivocal case can be made.  I don’t think anybody can say that we’ve proved that there is a gravitation force between two isolated protons.

What about examples of pure neutrons?  Well, the theoreticians say blocks of neutrons exist as condensed matter at the hearts of black holes.  I have a lot to say about the theoreticians, too.  Until we actually rope one in and get a sample, the proof will have to wait.  Gravitation attraction between two beams of neutrons?  Are you kidding me?  I don’t think anybody can say that we’ve proved that there is a gravitational force between two isolated neutrons.

So where does that leave gravity?  Is it possible that gravity is a force felt only between a proton and a neutron?  That a proton is attracted to the neutrons in a planetary body, and that neutrons are similarly attracted to the protons in a planetary body?  Remember our clues above, the only way to get large stable atoms is to blend mixtures of protons and neutrons, ideally in roughly equal amounts.  Never a group of just protons or just neutrons clustered together.  Yes, atom-smashing physicists have seen things that look like Helium-2 being created as decay products, but they instantly decay, so fast there is no “half-life” measurable.

How would that affect the basic equations for gravity?  Double the gravitational constant and cut the effective mass of the planetary body in half, and you have virtually got the identical equation.  Would gravity be different on different planets?  Well, we are estimating compositions of planets in the first place based on their observed gravity.  In theory if we had two planets whose composition was different enough that the proton-neutron ratio in them was different enough to measure (how though?), you might see a change in the relative gravitational attraction (mass) of a proton vs. a neutron.  That experiment hasn’t been done – and I’m not likely to get that one even in my retirement.

Clouds of Hydrogen gas not attracted to each other?  Well that would certainly change some of the models about planet formation.  They would rely more on accretion of matter onto larger objects and make gas clouds just coming together on their own pretty unlikely.

Neutrons not attracted to each other?  The whole idea of a black hole is that matter comes together, is squeezed under enormous gravitation pressure causing the electrons to be captured by their protons to change into neutrons, which then collapse into “neutronium” – a solid, ultra-dense block of pure neutrons.  Well, this alternate gravitational theory, if you follow it’s implications, says that neutronium would not attract neutrons, so it would not hold itself together under the force of gravity.

You may believe in black holes, but I believe in pulsars and quasars.  Yes, there seem to be a few massive objects out there that suck in everything around them, but there is no proof as to what lies in the middle.  There are lots of examples of pulsars and quasars, that are sucking in proton-rich material around the equator, then spewing out masses of energy and neutrons at the poles.  When a rotating quasar points its pole at us, like a light-house searchlight, we see the “pulse” that gives it the name “pulsar”.  These objects, unlike black holes, are completely compatible with this alternative theory of gravity.  Protons are pulled in by gravity, are squeezed to become neutrons, then are no longer “happy” surrounded by other neutrons and are squeezed to shoot out with high energy from the poles, to eventually decay back into a proton-electron pair in deep space.  The cycle then repeats.  I’m not saying this goes on forever in perpetual motion, just that quasars have their place in the natural evolution of stars.

So there we have it.  If gravity is a little more complex than we realized from our mortal point of view, being an attraction only between protons and neutrons, we have a new way of trying to understand how the universe works, and a fresh start on developing a Unified Field Theory.  I’ll delve into how the quantum mechanics sorts out in later chapters, but one take-home would be that black holes are nonsense.  This possibility will give the cosmologists something to yell about for years.  Watching them will provide the rest of us some insight into how the culture of modern science is working.

[© Copyright 2016 by Gerald Keep.  All Rights Reserved.]


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