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Posted by Paul Johanson on July 11, 2002 12:17:29 UTC

You've stumbled upon the reason why understanding gravity is so difficult.

The force of gravity cannot move faster than the speed of light. Nothing moves faster than the speed of light in a vacuum.

This was a problem for early theorists when they realized that if two bodies were suddenly moved farther apart the gravitational change would be felt instantly and must therefore travel with infinite velocity. Since nothing can travel at infinite velocity, or even faster than light, they had a big problem.

Albert Einstein provided the solution that we accept today, which is that gravity is a distortion of space-time, and that while objects travel in straight lines in the unimaginable fourth dimension, they appear to us to travel in curves, as they follow the distorted fabric of space-time. This eliminated the need for gravitational force to "travel" anywhere.

This is very hard to visualize, and even Dr. Hawking has said that three dimensional space is hard enough to get a grasp on, much less space with four dimensions.

Researchers are looking for an elementary particle that would correspond to gravity, called the graviton. They haven't found it, and it is conspicuous by its absence. If they do find evidence of a graviton it will force us to revise the way we view the operation of the universe.

Paul

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