A controversial new hypothesis that suggests our understanding of gravity is wrong has just passed an important first test. First proposed back in 2010, the new hypothesis states that gravity might behave and arise very differently than Einstein predicted, and an independent study of more than 30,000 galaxies has now found the first evidence to back this up.
The hypothesis is referred to as ‘Verlinde’s hypothesis of gravity’ after the theoretical physicist who came up with it, Erik Verlinde from the University of Amsterdam. If it can stand up to further testing, it could completely overhaul over a century of physics – including getting rid of dark matter altogether.
“His suggestion is that gravity isn’t a fundamental force of nature at all, but rather an emergent phenomenon – just like temperature is an emergent phenomenon that arises from the movement of microscopic particles. In other words, gravity is a side effect, not the cause, of what’s happening in the Universe”.
A scientific team studied galaxies and compared their results to the predictions made by Einstein’s general theory of relativity and those made by Verlinde, and found that both fit. But they found that Verlinde’s predictions matched their observations without needing to use any free parameters – which are values that can be tweaked to make observations match a hypothesis. The presence of dark matter, on the other hand, required four free parameters. (1)
Gravity, electromagnetic fields, particles… Constructs of science to model the cosmos. But models change all the time. This is what science is. And science is dealing with the phenomena. This is not something new. New is our inability to connect science with philosophy. New is our obsession to focus only on the phenomena and believe that they are the actual causes of what we see in the cosmos. We are like kids who were just given a new toy. We look in the distorting mirror and we believe everything we see inside it.
But the toy is old. The toy is broken.
We just have to break the mirror. And see beyond.
We have left Kansas a long time ago.
All we need now is to find a way back now…
we could think things either like the idealists (Hegel) or the empiricists. To think i.e. about the origin of the universe through idealistic conceptsseems futile. As one philosopher put it succinctly: “…how could a finite being grasp the infinite…”
Thus remains only the sensory perception of phenomena (by instruments).
Und yes, unfortunately, there seem no heirs to the great philosophers in sight (for us, at least).