TECH

Physicist Explains Why He Thinks Gravity Is Just An Illusion

It's a radical theory.

09/11/2016 17:52 | Updated 10 November 2016

For years, scientists have been trying to explain the mystery of dark matter – the invisible substance believed to make up 27% of the universe’s mass. 

It was first proposed when astronomers observed that there’s more gravity in galaxies than can be produced by their observable matter and gas.

The theory goes that dark matter is responsible for the rest.

But now a Erik Verlinde, a physicist at the University of Amsterdam, has put forward a new theory which he says explains gravitational inconsistencies without the need for dark matter.

“Our current ideas about space, time, and gravity urgently need to be re-thought. We have long known that Einstein’s theory of gravity can not work with quantum mechanics”, Erik Verlinde from the University of Amsterdam, told Dutch news site NOS.

“Our findings are drastically changing, and I think that we are on the eve of a scientific revolution.”

Many physicists are now trying to reconcile the conventional understanding of gravity and the conventional understanding of quantum mechanics.

But Verlinde has an alternative take.

He boldly suggests dark matter doesn’t exist and gravity is an illusion.

Gravity is understood to be a fundamental force of nature, but Verlinde contests that actually it’s what’s called an emergent phenomenon.

Emergent phenomena arise from the movement of microscopic particles, heat being the best known example.

Verlinde suggests the gravity is an emergent phenomenon of the entropy of the universe – a way of describing the chaos of the universe’s thermodynamics.

Science Alert’s Fiona MacDonald explains:

“The more chaotic something is, the more information is takes to describe it, and the more entropy it has.”

Verlinde says the fundamental bits of information stored in the fabric of space time can shift and move towards high entropy, causing a force that acts like gravity.

The theory hasn’t even been published in a peer-reviewed journal yet, but it’s certainly a thought-provoking way of seeing the universe. 

“We might be standing on the brink of a new scientific revolution that will radically change our views on the very nature of space, time and gravity,” Verlinde adds.  

His paper is published on arXiv.org

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