Douglas Carswell found himself on the receiving end of a science lesson after contesting a claim made by Professor Paul Nightingale, a senior researcher at the University of Sussex.
Nightingale had used the concept of gravity to call for free-trade links to be forged close to home.
“Want to understand trade? Think gravity: size and distance matter,” he wrote on Twitter. “UK-Ireland greater than UK-China.”
He followed up the remark with a planetary analogy: “Jupiter is big but the moon moves tides.”
But that last sentence stoked the interest of Carswell, who decided to argue back and declare it was the sun’s gravitational pull that caused tides.
Nightingale politely pointed back that he had been “mis-informed”, and that even though the sun was 27 million times bigger than the moon, it was also 390 times further away - weakening its gravitational pull.
Carswell remained steadfast, though, and said he was “surprised” to discover the academic refuted his claim.
To which Nightingale could only reply:
Douglas, this isn't a controversial point. It's in Newton's Principia
Another prominent academic, Rob Ford, quipped that it was time for a “common sense approach to gravity”.
One Labour councillor even took the chance to pass Carswell the link to a Nasa website for kids that explained the moon and sun’s gravitational pull on earth.
But people wouldn’t stop chiding Carsell for his insistence he knew better.
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