Newton defined gravity as a constant, based in mass: the more mass, the greater the gravitational attraction between two bodies. Thus, an astronaut on the moon effortlessly bounds about like a gazelle because the mass of the moon — and, hence, its gravity — is less than on Earth. Conversely, that same astronaut would be crushed to the ground by gravity, unable to stand, if he were to set foot on a massive, Jupiter-sized planet.
It is accepted as fact by scientists and laymen alike that as long as the Earth has been at its present mass, its gravity has been the same. In their view, the first amphibian to wriggle its way onto land struggled against the same gravitational pull as we do today when we get up off the couch. Newton’s hypothesis is so universally accepted as fact that it is no longer referred to as a theory. It has been exalted to an axiom in science. It is now called the law of gravity.
But a sober examination of historical facts disputes that assumption, that law. Earth’s gravity has varied over the eons. The evidence has been before us for almost two centuries, but we have failed to recognize it or at least acknowledge it. That evidence — the stones and bones buried in the earth — clearly demonstrates that gravity is not a constant.
Of course, scientists scoff at such assertions as nonsense. They say that the mathematical equations necessary to send astronauts to the Moon or space probes to the outer planets would fail if gravity were not constant. Our entire program of space exploration is anchored in the premise of Newton’s gravity constant. They insist that the smallest variation in gravity from planet to planet would cause orbital miscalculations that would send any space vehicle awry. Well established orbital mechanics, based on Newtonian physics, they assert, has served to help us successfully navigate our space probes throughout the solar system.
This seems to be a strong argument on the face of it. But closer examination will reveal that it may not be entirely accurate. While planets and moons in our solar neighborhood may appear to follow the gravity constant rule, for whatever reason, further out beyond our solar system we find that things are not so clear cut.
A fresh view of the evidence begins with a relatively recent development. As astronomers began looking further out in space in recent decades, they discovered a type of star or sun that did not seem to conform to the gravitational rules. These anomalous objects had a measurable gravitational influence that far exceeded expectations for their size. Put another way, these anomalous stars had an apparent gravity that was equal to objects many times their size. Because scientists considered gravity a constant, the only other variable in the equation was mass. Rather than question the ‘immutable’ law of gravity, scientists speculated that these bodies represented a new, denser state of matter. Hence, they determined that the mass of these objects must be far greater than their size indicated. That would account for their untoward gravitational influence. For that reason, these new objects were called “ultra massive,” and Newton’s law remained intact.
The alternate hypothesis — that gravity was not a function of mass — was never seriously considered. That is, if something other than the mass of an object in space determined its gravitational pull, then a relatively small body with low mass could nevertheless have tremendous gravitation influence. This alternative was unthinkable to scientists, so it was rejected without comment.
Newton’s ideas about gravity were a step forward, but as time went on too many anomalies went unexplained. Rather than consider the possibility that Newton’s theory was wrong, scientists opted to invent ad hoc theories to explain the anomalies. This set the stage for some strange inventions, theoretical constructs like black holes, dark matter and neutron stars. That is, these things probably do not exist, as envisioned in theory. They were contrived to account for observed anomalous gravitational phenomena.
Look to the past
The simplest, most logical and persuasive argument against the gravity constant can be found not in the stars, but beneath our very feet. The paleontological record — the stones and bones of ancient prehistory, entombed in the earth — argues eloquently against gravity as a constant.
Consider the dinosaurs.
Early 20th century depictions in scientific journals and textbooks of the behemoth Brontosaurus showed him standing hip-deep in water, a long-necked, four-legged, lumbering tail-dragger confined to shallow pools of water where his considerable weight would be displace by the water’s buoyancy. One wonders what led early paleontologists to believe that Brontosaurus lived in a semi-aquatic environment? There was no evidence in paleontology to suggest such might be the case. Could it be that they considered it impossible for such a giant to stand on his own, given the gravity constant, without the buoyancy of water?
Indeed, such turns out to be the case. Early textbooks allude to the Brontosaur’s need to ‘float’ in the water in order to displace the considerable weight of his massive body, much like a ship on the ocean. Apparently, early paleontologists were more analytical and intellectually honest that today’s crop. Those of the ‘old school’ recognized a fundamental fact that modern paleontologists universally ignore: No land animal of that size could stand erect on dry land with our present gravity.
Very recent discoveries reveal that far from being cold-blooded, swamp-dwelling reptiles, dinosaurs were probably warm-blooded, land-dwelling animals having more in common with modern birds than reptiles. Many lived in herds or flocks, grazing much like modern cattle. More astounding still, even the largest among them moved about with remarkable ease, given their tremendous girth. Some two-legged dinosaurs were probably remarkably swift, running much like a modern ostrich.
This begs the question: How did the really large ones manage to maneuver about with such ease, agility and alacrity? Today’s paleontologists correctly depict Tyrannosaurus rex running, jumping and leaping with the agility of a modern Kodiak bear, the largest known carnivore on earth today. Yet, a modern bull elephant, somewhat smaller than T. rex, can manage little more than an energetic shuffle when it runs, due to its exceptional weight. How did the massive dinosaurs manage to move about so deftly in spite of their tremendous size? There is only one reasonable answer, even though it flies in the face of current scientific dogma: They experienced less gravity!
A weighty problem
There is still another indication of attenuated gravity in the structural limitations of the dinosaurs’ bodies.
Engineers, who study things like the load bearing capacity of stone and steel, indicate that bone, no matter how massive, is incapable of supporting the exceedingly great weight of the larger dinosaurs.
Muscle, too, has its limitation. Some engineers doubt that muscle—even enormous amounts of it, as the dinosaurs clearly had—would be sufficient to the task of propelling those massive bodies. The larger dinosaurs would simply have been incapable of lifting their own weight, given Earth’s present gravity.
Like our theoretical astronaut on Jupiter, they would be unable to rise to their feet. What is more, even if they were able to stand, the bones in their legs and feet would be crushed under the incredible weight of their own massive bodies.
Taxonomy suggests that the modern elephant represents the upper limit of size for a land animal, given the present gravity. Indisputable paleontological evidence of the existence of prehistoric creatures many times more massive than the modern elephant argues persuasively that gravity was significantly less during the Jurassic than it is today.
Getting off the ground
The Pterosaurs were the flying dinosaurs — some of them the size of today’s small, single-engine airplanes. Their wingspan was several times greater than that of our largest birds, which is about 14 to 16 feet. If an albatross or a condor had a longer wingspan, given today’s gravitational limitations, the bones in their wings would simply be unable to support them in flight — even if they only glided. Flapping wings to fly, of course, adds still more stress to the bird’s airframe. So it was, too, with the Pterosaurs.
Given today’s gravitational pull, the largest of the flying dinosaurs, Ornithopterous, would have shattered the bones in his wings upon attempting to fly. The fact that such huge dinosaurs actually flew is striking evidence that they had less gravity to contend with than do today’s birds.
Even the more recent prehistoric record suggests diminished gravity. Creatures that resemble modern animals characterized the Cenozoic era or the Age of Mammals. Yet, these prehistoric mammals, such as giant sloths, saber-toothed tigers and great bears, were much larger than their modern counterparts. Ice age mammoths and mastodons were noticeably larger than modern elephants. These so called “megafauna” suggest that gravity governs the general size of some animals. That is, the size of the flora and fauna is dictated by the gravity they experience.
More compelling still is the evidence from recent, historic times, since modern man began his sojourn on the Earth. Megalithic structures, erected by ancient man at the dawn of civilization, are massive, mute stones that speak loudly for an altered state of gravity even in historic times.
Archeologists and anthropologists wonder out loud at the capacity of ancient man to build stone monuments that would challenge our best engineers and equipment. The pyramids on the Geza plateau in Egypt, the Sun Gate at Tiahuanaco, the ponderous stones in the walls of Cuzco in Peru, Stonehenge on the Aubrey Plain in England and the megaliths at Baalbek in Lebanon are only a few examples of stones so massive and well worked that modern man stands in awe at their sheer size and mass. Some, like the stones at Baalbek, conservatively estimated at 1,200 tons each, would be almost impossible to move with the best modern heavy equipment.
How, then, did ancient cultures manage such Herculean feats? How were people with primitive tools and a rudimentary knowledge of engineering able to perform such exploits?
The answer may be as simple as falling off a log: less gravity. If early Stone Age and Bronze Age man experienced periods of reduced gravity, then the opportunity to move massive stones for sacred structures would be irresistible. Ironically, there is a strong suggestion in the historic record that just such a thing happened.
The first Olympiad, held in Greece in 620 B.C., may have been organized because the electromagnetic environment was altered, allowing mankind to experience unique gravitational effects. There are indications that the first Olympic games celebrated the fact that men could suddenly run faster, jump higher and further than ever before. Oddly, the Greek records indicate that the athletes carried a large stone in each hand as they competed for the highest and longest jumps. Scholars neglect to mention the stones because it seems odd that athletes wishing to jump as high or as far as possible would burden themselves with stones that could only impede their performance. Yet, perhaps the same electromagnetic phenomena that allowed them to levitate great stones also allowed them to offset their mass by carrying levitating stones as they ran and jumped.
The spark of understanding
Thus, we see that prehistoric and historic evidence strongly suggests that gravity has not been a constant. Newton got it wrong. Gravity is not a function of mass.
But it may be a function of electrical charge. Consistent with Wal Thornhill’s theory of an electric universe, gravity could be altered in an instant by changing the net charge on the Earth. Just as bits of paper or hair cling to a comb that is filled with ‘static electricity,’ perhaps all things are held on the Earth by a similar, electrical effect. Alter the charge on the Earth, and things become heavier or lighter, depending upon whether the change involved a net increase or decrease of charge.
How is the charge on the Earth altered? Thornhill looks to ancient accounts of celestial thunderbolts to answer that question. The weapon of choice among the ancient celestial gods or planets was the thunderbolt — what we call lightning. Colliding or intersecting bodies in space, each with their own charge, will attempt to reach electrical equilibrium by exchanging charge via interplanetary lightning bolts of epic proportion.
We see this effect often in the lightning that leaps about in the clouds or between the clouds and the ground. It is nothing more than a method of equalizing the electrical gradient differential between the ground and the cloud or between areas within the clouds.
Try this experiment as a way of understanding electromagnetic attraction. Hold a static-charged comb at arms length. No effect is observed. Now, bring the comb close to your arm. As the comb comes closer, the hair on you arm rises as the comb passes over it, attracted by the difference in charge between the comb and your hair. You can both see it and feel it.
Distance is the determining factor. At a distance, there is no effect. But when your arm and the comb come into close proximity, the effect becomes pronounced. Bring the comb close enough, and a spark leaps between the comb and your arm. Now that the charge difference has been equalized by the exchange of charge, the hair no longer rises to the comb.
A similar phenomenon is at work between the stars, planets and moons in space. While this example may seem simplistic, it is by no means far fetched. Past collisions or near collisions have allowed the planets to exchange their charge and change their orbits as well as their gravity. As long as the planets remained at a distance, no exchange was possible and the attraction remained relatively weak. But when events conspired to bring them into close proximity, their electrical nature asserted itself with a vengeance.
Ancient observers saw lightning leap between nearby planets as well as to Earth. Sodom and Gomorrah may have been ground zero for an interplanetary lightning strike that instantly incinerated those two hapless cities. The fire that fell from the sky, consumed Elijah’s sacrifice and alter as well may have been such an interplanetary lightning bolt.
It may be that mass still plays a small role in the electromagnetic equation, but it is electricity that lights the universe, dictates the planets’ orbits and keeps our feet firmly planted on the ground. As noted astronomer Halton Arp put it, “Gravity is the ashes of formerly electrical systems.”
Ironic, isn’t it. Gravity is more like the pesky “static cling” in our clothes and our hair than the theory of mutual attraction of mass to which modern science clings.
© Anthony E. Larson, 2000