Saturday, April 7, 2007

Admittedly Unproven, Why Does Science Accept Gravity as a Property of Matter?

Newton died at the end of the 1720s, the subject of universal adulation. He had, during his lifetime, created what we would call today a cult of personality. He was considered infallible, his creation of universal gravitation, Celestial Mechanics as it came to be known, a milestone in the march of humanity from ignorance to light.
While his mathematics, designed to show that the amount of gravity in the Earth and the moon equaled the amount of gravity it would take to curve the moon’s straight-line motion into circular motion, and therefore that gravity was proportional to and therefore a property of matter, still fell short of his goal, few people were capable of understanding his math, and fewer still his reasoning, and he had long since discredited any reputable scientist who had deigned to disagree with him. It took poets like Alexander Pope to venerate his memory.
He needed poets because, as the 18th century progressed, Newton’s equations were increasingly applied to the planets and found to be wanting, and not in amounts that could be dismissed as minor.
An honest science, one that was interested in self-correction, that actually wanted to uncover the true nature of reality or at least attempt to come as close as humanly possible, would have said, well, we tried, but it didn’t work. Let’s go back to the drawing board and figure out exactly what’s going on.
Unfortunately, science wasn’t then, nor has it at any time since, been interested in correcting its mistakes simply because its mistakes are so ingrained, not on a theoretical or factual basis, but on the basis of religious mantra, the dogmatic repetition by the unwashed masses, gravity is a property of matter, that once its conclusions are out there, science can never go back.
The reason it was forced to stand by Newton’s conclusions in the face of his failed proof was a part of the contest of the times. In the 18th century, the unwashed masses still believed in biblical conclusions, and biblical conclusions were dictated by religious authorities. There are only so many seats at the banquet table, and there were not enough seats for both religious authorities and scientific authorities to feast. A life and death battle was going on to determine who should shape the picture of the world for the unwashed masses. Religion had performed the function, and reaped the benefits, for thousands of years. The new religion of science was shouldering its way to the table, in the process elbowing religion away.
Great battles, including the origin of man and the age of the Earth, battles that had little to do with science but much to do with capturing the minds of men, were looming. Science couldn’t just admit that its founding principle, the explanation for the most puzzling phenomena we experience, falling objects, was erroneous. What would that mean in its battle for supremacy over religious explanations? Such a large helping of egg on the face might be fatal to the young science gaining a foothold over the popular imagination.
Therefore, it wasn’t a question of Newton being wrong that faced science, it was a question of where Newton went wrong.
In the opening decades of the 19th century, William Whewell would write volumes on the history of science, focusing on the scientific method. Inherent in all this verbiage was an organizing principle, that Newton’s induction of gravity as a property of matter was valid regardless of his failure of proof. Whewell is absent from the scene today, with chronological listings dealing with the scientific method stopping in the 18th century and beginning again in the 20th, but Whewell’s verbiage went a long way to justify what science was carrying out on a practical level.
I was once asked to document the fact that Newton’s proof of gravity failed, leaving gravity an unproven assumption with not even the status of scientific fact, but I don’t have to prove it. All I have to do is refer the reader to Newton himself, his logic and mathematical process in proving the hypothesis, and what science does today with the hypothesis.
It is quite simple, really. Science said Newton’s process was flawed because he was using the motion of the planets, the amount of matter in the moon and the Earth combined with the orbit of the moon, to predict the motion of the planets.
What he should have been doing, science now claims, is to have used the orbits of the planets to determine the amount of matter in the planets.
Think about this turnaround for a minute. Newton used the amount of matter in the moon and the Earth to predict the orbit of the moon. The orbit he predicted was the actual orbit of the moon as altered by gravity from its straight-line course. Science is saying we use the orbits of the planets to compute the amount of matter in the planets.
Newton devised his process because he was trying to prove gravity was a property of matter. To make this proof, he attempted to show that gravity was proportional to matter.
If gravity isn’t demonstrated to be proportional to matter, then there’s no proof that it is a property of matter.
How does science’s interpretation of gravity demonstrate that it’s proportional to matter?
It doesn’t. It merely uses Newton’s math (more or less) to compute the amount of matter in a planet.
Newton needed to know the amount of matter, and therefore, gravity in a planet in order to compute proportionality. Science says we assume that gravity is a property of matter and therefore proportional. We then determine the amount of gravity in a planet using its orbit and use proportionality to convert that gravity to matter. Because the matter doesn't conincide with size, we call the matter thus computed mass.
Instead of using gravity to predict orbits, science is using orbits to predict gravity, and because gravity is proportional to matter, predicting the amount of matter in a planet.
What is the one tenet of science that must never be violated?
Any hypothesis must produce measurable predictions.
Is the amount of matter in a planet measurable?
Absolutely not. No one, and this was Newton’s fallacy, knows the proportion of the different densities of matter in a planet, and therefore the use of Newton’s unproven theory to demonstrate the amount of matter in a planet is inherently unscientific.
Science basically said we have to save Newton, but how do we do it? We simply accept Newton’s conclusion, then use Newton to produce all sorts of fuzzy math that results in meaningless conclusions. The beauty of the thing is, like black holes and dark matter, the meaningless conclusions, being meaningless, can never be disproved, and therefore, no one can ever challenge them.
The result is, we have universally come to believe our own subterfuge. We believe we have answered questions we haven’t, and we believe that we have answered questions that we can never answer, increasing the awe with which we view ourselves.
And all the while, we are abysmally ignorant of the most basic forces in our existence. We have no idea what the mechanics of gravity are, we ignore totally the fact that for the planet to rotate under the friction of the atmosphere, it has to have a current force causing it to rotate, accepting instead the fiction of inertia, crippling meteorology in the process. We have absolutely no idea why the moon or the planets are moving, and using Newtonian assumptions, we lose billion dollar spacecraft as a matter of course.
We think we know everything and we know absolutely nothing, and if you think Newton created a can of worms with gravity, imagine what a can of worms our own ignorance is creating.

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