November 27, 2016
U.S. entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari (C),
due to become the first female space tourist,
enjoys flying in a zero-gravity simulator,
a Russian IL-76 MDK aircraft better known
as the Flying Laboratory in Star City,
outside Moscow, 27 July 2006.
(Photo credit: MAXIM MARMUR/AFP/Getty Images)
You drop something - it falls.
And the way physicists
have described gravity has also been pretty consistent - it's
considered one of the four main forces or "interactions" of nature
and how it works has been described by
Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity all
the way back in 1915.
Instead it's "emergent" -
coming into existence from changes in microscopic bits of
information in the structure of spacetime.
Verlinde first articulated this groundbreaking theory in his 2010 paper (On the Origin of Gravity and the Laws of Newton), which took on the laws of Newton and argued that gravity is,
He famously stated then that "gravity is an illusion," elaborating further that:
What's more, the Dutch professor now published an elaboration of his previous work in "Emergent Gravity and the Dark Universe", which argues there's no "dark matter" - a mysterious kind of matter that along with dark energy theoretically makes up 95% of the universe, but has not really been discovered yet.
Dark matter alone is thought to account for nearly 27% of the universe's mass-energy.
There has undoubtedly been something scientifically disconcerting about giving so much significance to a force that's never been detected directly. It's existence has only been inferred through gravitational effects.
Interestingly, it's existence has been first suggested by another Dutch scientist - the astronomer Jacobus Kapteyn in 1922.
One way the existence of dark matter was used was to explain why stars in outer regions of space seem to rotate faster around the center of their galaxy than theory suggested.
What Verlinde proposes is that gravity just works differently from how we previously understood it, and creating the concept of dark matter is irrelevant.
He is able to predict the velocity of outer-rim stars and their "excess gravity" within his new theory.
This aspect of Verlinde's theory was actually tested recently with success by a team of Dutch scientists.
One great outcome of Verlinde's work is that it pushes us further towards reconciling quantum physics with general relativity.
Hear Professor Verlinde talk about what he thinks of gravity in his interview with Big Think: