Thursday, January 12, 2006

Time to Re-Write the Physics Books?

Now that the joint NASA/Stanford physics experiment called Gravity Probe-B has completed its year-long data gathering trip researchers can begin analyzing the volumes of data in the hopes of either proving Einstein right, or calling for a re-write of every physics book in the world.

Einstein said Spacetime was like a fourth dimensional zone (three dimensions of space, one dimension of time) similar to a rubber mat stretched tight. Earth (and all matter) exists in Spacetime and therefore rests on this mat causing a depression. Like a bowling ball sitting in the middle of that rubber mat.
Using this model Gravity is described as the movement of objects down into this depression. Like a marble rolling down the slope of the rubber mat toward the bowling ball, things fall into orbit around our planet and eventually come crashing to the ground.

Because the Earth is spinning, there should be a slight twist (or vortex) in the rubber mat beneath it. Gravity Probe-B was built to detect whether there is or not.

If there is, Einstein is right, case closed.
If there is not--well, then things get crazy for mathematicians everywhere because everything they thought they knew about the physics of the universe comes into question...

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