Physicist advances a radical theory of gravity

Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.

Photo by Willeke Duijvekam
  • The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
  • The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
  • While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
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Always dreamed of flying? On these moons, you can.

There are places in our solar system where you can fly.

  • Both the moon and Mars have a weaker surface gravity than the Earth does. The result? You don't weigh as much on either celestial body as you do here.
  • On a moon called Titan that orbits Saturn, the gravity isn't as strong as Earth's, but the atmosphere is much thicker. In this world, it would be possible to strap wings to your arms and fly around.
  • On a low-gravity moon called Miranda, just off the space coast of Uranus, there are cliffs that are many miles high. It would be possible to jump off a cliff here and fall very gently to the bottom.

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Everything We Know About Physics in One Neat Infographic

If you've ever wondered which part of physics covers which part of space, fret no more. Here is an awesome map that lays it all out.

Map of Physics by Dominic Walliman

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Lawrence Krauss on "Seeing" the Early Universe

Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Lawrence M. Krauss spoke at CSICon 2016 about scientists' attempt to look back in time to the beginning of our universe.

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