Gravity is hard to understand. Why? Because we can’t see, feel, hear, smell or taste gravity. That’s just how our bodies work. Things beyond our senses are difficult to identify. Or it is difficult to even know of their existence. Madame Curae found out the hard way when billions of emissive electrons tore through her body while researching radioactive materials. How did we discover that the metal, lead, provided good protection from radiation? Probably a cool story but it’s not this one. I’m not sure if I like the learning curve on that story. I mean what are the chances someone randomly wearing a suit made of lead happened along to joyfully find he was the single remaining live human after exposure?
In this story we will instead study the possible connection between gravity and magnetism, which are two things whose properties lay beyond our senses.
But first let’s dispel the long held and faulty belief that gravity can be categorized into any sort of stable constant. Gravity is not constant. Not locally. Not only is it -not- constant between planets, stars, galaxies and beyond, but it is not even static on the same single planet.
In March 2009 a scientific mission began. It was named GOCE. GOCE is a dual-satellite experiment launched by a European set of nations. It’s acronym stands for Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer.
An earlier pair of satellites launched between a partnership of Germany and the US in 2002. This pair was known as the GRACE mission.
Together these missions have discovered a very significant fact. (Among many other facts to be sure, even possibly giving us a heads-up on where to search for precious metals like gold and silver! But that’s my surprise for later.) The important discovery, though, is that gravity is not the same anywhere on the Earth’s surface.
Why is this important? Because the long held belief that gravity being derived from the Earth’s core can not possibly be true given the vast differences of gravitational pull from different areas of the Earth’s outer circumference. Even though the Earth is actually more potato shaped than round, if gravity emanated from the center of the Earth then gravity would be more static around the entire globe then what these satellite missions found.
The results we have can more clearly be discerned theoretically as originating in the Earth’s crust. And what lies in the Earth’s crust? Minerals and such. Lets just call them a lot of atoms.
Gravity is a two-way street. Yes. The Earth’s gravity does attract dust and other elements from outer space. That’s one side of the street. Imagine a piece of dust that was created long ago by the destruction of the massive debris field that now makes up the Van Alan Belt, and that little piece of dust just happened to be floating in the vicinity of the Earth’s orbit 2,000 or however many years later. When it get’s close enough it will be drawn toward the Earth because our Gravity may be stronger than that gravity holding it in space. And that’s why dusting is a never ending job.
Atoms also leave our atmosphere in large numbers as they possibly chase some more gravitationally attractive source extraneous to the Earth. That is the other side of the two way street. Perhaps a series of planets and stars line up in the absolute “perfect storm” sort of way to increase their combined gravity field in an exponential way to attract a hydrogen or helium atom, and off it goes into space toward that gravity. Of course it would help if it’s high-altitude azimuth was directly above one of Earth’s weaker gravitational areas, as the satellite missions taught us.
I used the word “possibly” in the above paragraph because it’s also possible that these light-weight elements like hydrogen and helium are being pushed out of the atmosphere as they are displaced by heavier objects like dust coming in. A glass can be only half full, but if you put 50 marbles in it the water will be pushed out of the glass by the heavier marbles’ mass.
It’s more likely that both processes occur but at this hypothetical stage of theory, minutiae like this is just really not important. It’s important just to understand that atoms come and atoms go, in from space and out to space.
What is the perfect exchange of atoms floating into and floating out of the Earth’s gravitational field? If one helium atom rushes out of the atmosphere to chase some other stronger source of gravity, then why don’t they all rush out at once? Thank God they don’t. In any case we can presume they trickle in and trickle out because of a delicate balance between the fluctuating gravity in the Earth’s crust combined with a fluctuating extraneous gravity pull somewhere n outer space. If Earth’s gravity was constant, and the stronger or weaker extraneous gravitational force was constant, then we would see all atoms rushing out or all atoms rushing in at once. Or simply put: death.
Ergo, gravity is not constant. It is fluctuating.
But I give credit where credit is due. Einstein’s theory of relativity uniquely gives us a pretty good ballpark average of gravity. And if we were to travel hundreds of thousands of light years away from earth that average could be used to plan and navigate our way the correct solar system. But it won’t pin the tail on the donkey. Even the Tesla automobile sent to space can’t do that. Once we get into the neighborhood we’d have to manually navigate to the correct spot.
Earlier I teased you with the possibility of using the new “gravity” maps to try and locate good spots to search for gold and silver. Below is sort of a topographical gravity map developed by the gravity mapping satellites. The idea is to study the gravity strength from known areas where gold or diamonds are known to have been found in huge ways, and look for similar gravitational waves with similar mountainous/ancient volcanic formations. You never know. It might “pan” out. (he he he)