Join Date: February 14, 2006
Well, particals do attract one another through gravity. But gravity is only an attractive force. There is no opposit to gravity, no anti-gravity. There must be a force that counters then the force of gravity or the atoms making up your body would just keep geting closer and closer together until they merged into a singularity. Since you haven't collapsed into a singularity, nor has the earth, so some force must be countering the pull of gravity between your individual atoms. The force that provides the counteraction to gravity is called the electromagnetic force. A spinning magnet creates an electric field, and an electric current creates a magnetic field. Since all electrons are negatively charged they repel one another. Since electrons make up the outside of atoms when gravity pulls the atoms together the electrons on the outside get close to one another, and push each other apart. In light molocules this force makes them naturally a gas at most temperatures you encounter. Heavier elements form crystals, whose shape is governed by the way the individual atoms repel one another, affecting how they lock together.
Now the problem with your image is that you are picturing atoms as hard little balls, like marbles in a jar, and that they rest against one another. But they are mostly empty space. Not only is this a real effect, its used everyday. The solid state transistor that your computer uses as you read this uses thsi property of mater to create electron gates that make a microprocessor possible. So denying that atoms are mostly empty space because you personally have never experienced the emptyness yourself is a little absured, your using the effect right now. Nor do you need to take my word for it. Its a practical principle that materials engineers in the semiconductor field use every day in their seach for faster and more effecient micro, and nanocircutry.
Now if elecromagnetism was the same strength as gravity, it would take a very small concentration of atoms to overcome the repulsive force turning hydrogen into neutrons, and the neutrons into strange matter, and the strange matter into cingularityies. Yes the strange matter step is speculative, it involves a type of quark that is created under extreem energy conditions that may exist at the core of some neutron stars. Since this doesn't happen, we can conclude that the electromagentic force is stronger then the gravitational force.
By looking at how many atoms it does take to put enough gravity in one place to create a black hole we can begin to calcualte the difference in strength. We can also do direct experements on the two forces allowing us to estimate how much matter a star needs to be or how much energy needs to be in a partical collision to create a singularity. Anyways, by performing these experements physisits have discovered that the electromagnetic force is vastly stronger. The differences are absurdly huge. A force is constant in all places at all times. You don't have more or less of it like matter or energy. Gravity, for instance, can not be used up. Objects higher up in a gravitational field have more potential energy, but the gravity itself stays the same, and no matter how many times you throw a ball in the air and then catch it, you will not use gravity up. Forces act on energy and matter, but are neither.
Sometimes people confuse energy and force. They are not the same thing at all. Conservation of energy means you expend energy by throwing the ball into the air, imbuing it with potential energy as it rises, converting its kinetic to potential. When all the kinetic energy is gone the ball begins turning its poetential energy back into kinetic energy and drops into you hand. It is the force of gravity that tells the ball to turn kinetic energy into potential energy, and then release it as kinetic energy. It is gravity that the outside force that changes its path in accordance with Newtons laws of motion. To see how gravity acts differently, making it a force and not an energy you throw the ball down instead of up. In this case the ball does not convert kinetic energy to potential energy, it adds the potential energy it gained when you lifted it up to the throw. Gravity won't make much difference as you're not that tall, compared to a mountain, and the amount of energy from throwing it down will be much greater then if you just dropped it. A scale could be used to measure it the difference in force, or you could just put your foot in the way, and it should hurt more when you theor ie then if you just drop it. Use a fairly small ball, F=ma after all.
Now the ball DOES bounce of the ground or your foot. It doesn't continue on to the center of the earth. A ball on the ground is still considered to have potential energy. The "center of gravity" is the center of the earth, so any thing that isn't there has a measurable amount of potential energy. If there were a hole that went down to the center of the earth you could roll a ball on the ground into the hole and it would plumet to the center of the earth. So even though the Earth gets in the way, the surface has potential energy.
This is best seen by ocean depths. A rock on top of the ocean has potential energy, the same as a rock on the beach. As the rock gets deeper in the ocean more preasure is applied to it by the surrounding water, preasure equal to the weight of all the water above it. This is because all the water in the ocean is trying to fall to the center of the earth, but the rest of the water and the ocean floor are getting in the way. The same actually applies to rock, the deeper you go the more preasure there is, equall to the weight of all the rock on top of it. The preasure never gets high enough to cause nuclear fusion like in a star. But it is alot of preasure. Still, as much preasure as it is, the atoms still manage to maintain their integrity. The iron core is still made of iron, not nuetrons or a singualrity. So even at the very center f the earth electromagentic forces are still stronger then gravity, and the atom at the very center of the earth is able to hold up the Whole Weight of the Entire Earth, with just a single atom's electromagenetic field.
Do you see that now? There must be an atom at the exact center and it can still hold up the entire earth, resting on a single atom. The thought bogles the mind. All the atoms in the earth are atracting one another with gravitons if you like, and trying to reach the center. Gravitons only attract so as you say they are all atracting one another. As I demonstrated, the only thing that keeps atoms apart are their electrons repulsing one another with the electromagnetic force, modern computer technology is based on this. So if a single atom's electons' electromagenetic force can overcome all the gravitons of all the atoms on the entire earth it must be VASTLY stronger. Its a multiple with a whole slew of zeroes actually, Quintillions of times stronger. So while a balck hole is impressive, it should be even more impressive what the matter had to go through to get that much mass close enough together to overcome the other three forces combined and create a singularity, a point of infinite gravity, and zero time. This happens because there is no reverse version of gravity.
You can't make a magenetic field infinitely strong because the other pole always counters it exactly. Because of this electromagantism doesn't make anything as impressive as a balck hole. Even a single electron has a north and south magnetic field. And even if you get alot of electrons in one place you can create a powerful force to draw positivly charged particals to them, but as soon as the particals get there, the force balances out, and the electrons are pushing each other apart so it takes alot of energy to hold them together. But gravity draws more stuff to it, and the more you have the more it draws so it is a positive feedback loop. Your being impressed by the addative nature of gravity. But as I said forces are constant, a kilogram of mass always has the same amount of gravity. An electron always has the same amount of charge. You can get lightning when a bunch of electrons end up where they shouldn't be, but once the lightning flashes the force is balanced.
You are Catholic eh? You might want to ask your priest about the church's position on ID. It is really hostile, going all the way up to the pope. Catholocism is the worlds only great hierarchical religeons, which means it is on message. And in matters of faith a Decon out ranks Senetors Kennedy and Kerry. The gaul of claiming they are good catholics while rejecting the church's positions on social issues isn't just hypocritical, its wrong. If you disagree with the Pope and his Cardinals you are not a good catholic. I'm not saying you have to be a good catholic, I don't care, that's between you, The Pope, and Jesus. I'm not Catholic, I just think their embracing evolution and the Big Bang is really cool. And if Science later shows either is wrong, science is a Search recall, then the Church will accept the new conclusions. Render onto Science, that which is science's, render onto God, that which is God's; if i might paraphrase a commonly quoted passage.