Why Light And Gravitation Travel At The Same Speed, A Modern Reasoning

Why Rome failed is because Rome was obsessed by its own navel. Like Buddha (who also failed, at least in India, for the same reason!) Navel obsession has military consequences. Making big reasoning, striving for a grandiose view of the universe is not just what makes civilization worth defending, it’s also what enables to defend civilization.

Now it’s easy to see that gravitation goes at the speed of light: take a mass M, and the exact same antimatter mass, call it (-M). In practice say one elementary particle and its antimatter correspondent (electron, positon; nucleon, anti-nucleon). Before annihilating each other, they generate gravitation, G. After, light, L. If G, or L propagated at different speeds there would be shocks in the system, and energy conservation would be violated.

After annihilation, transforming the pair M, Anti M, into pure light, if the light energy L went faster than the gravitation energy G, it would catch up, creating a (energy violating) shock

Skeptics could object to this little reasoning of mine. They could point out at Quantum Physics, where violations of energy conservation are allowed, if short enough. Now, right, it’s not because something is allowed that it happens. However, the theory of Quantum Electro Dynamics (QED) has proven that these violations DO happen: namely if one incorporates them in computations, one gets the correct results, otherwise, not so.  

However, the root of the Uncertainty Principle is the size of the waves relative to the mass of the object. With large masses, large M, the reasoning above holds, because uncertainty on the mass of M goes down, and the disruption of energy conservation becomes arbitrarily large…

In other news, Quantum Physics says: spacetime doesn’t exist. But many talk as if it does, parotting a prestigious parrot, Minkowski. Then they have problems with cats.

Patrice Ayme

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12 Responses to “Why Light And Gravitation Travel At The Same Speed, A Modern Reasoning”

  1. ianmillerblog Says:

    Patrice, Why would there be shocks if gravity travelled faster than c? (Not saying it does – just that the argument would seem to fail.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Sorry, my explanation was just evocative… Not very explicit…

      Because energy would be transmitted (from gravitational radiation), then stop… waiting for the light. Shocking.

      OK, more in detail: So consider an observer OBS far away enough. If gravitation went faster, there will be a time, when the gravitation hits OBS, while the light shell is still far away. Say the masses are M. The light shell has energy 2Mc^2… Hence as the gravitation wave reaches OBS, total mass energy observed in the shell of radius OBS is more than 2Mc^2 (plus rotational energy R as my drawing suggested)… So the energy augments in the ball of radius OBS (before finally going back down as the light wave passes…)

      Instead if both light and gravitation travel at the same speed, the outward energy flow is continuous, and never exceeds what was there to start with (when integrated over the surface of a shell, like the one of radius OBS, Stokes theorem…)


  2. Richard Benish Says:

    Here’s a not “just evocative,” but very concretely testable idea that bears on both conservation of energy and the speed of gravity:

    Drop a test object into a hole through the center of a larger body. What happens? Physicists think they “know” that the test object oscillates from one end of the hole to the other. If energy is conserved, indeed it would.

    Although Galileo proposed this experiment 388 years ago, and it has been feasible for several decades, it has not yet been done. If accelerometers tell the truth, then the test object will NOT oscillate. It will not even pass the center. Maybe this is the more reasonable possibility.

    Details that defend the accelerometer’s point of view are found in a paper recently submitted to the Gravity Research Foundation Essay Contest:

    Galileo’s Experiment is Still Undone


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The experiment is made by any satellite, it seems to me.
      The thought experiment of the Tunnel Through The center Of The Earth is much older than Galileo, it was well-known in the fourteenth century.
      From: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-94-015-9295-6_6

      “almost from the beginning (16 February 1417) Lawrence introduced at Saint Andrews university and maintained with a strong hand the teaching of the VIA MODERNA, the ‘nominalist’ philosophy.

      In spite of opposition from the adherents of the via antiqua (the ancient way of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas) he pushed it through with no less firmness than he had shown in persecuting the unorthodox. In Paris – where Lawrence and most of the other Regents had studied – at that time the ‘new way’ prevailed.
      From that centre of medieval leaming the ideas of the great philosopher Jean Buridan had
      been spread all over Europe by his pupils and the pupils of his pupils
      , who…

      … In these circumstances we may be practically certain that the ideas of
      the Paris philosophers will give us reliable information as to the character of the
      physics taught at St Andrews university in the first decades after its formation.
      The physical teaching of the several scholastic traditions had in common a
      predilection for philosophical disputation about imaginary situations; e.g. … if a tunnel were bored
      through the centre of the earth and a heavy body dropped into it, what would
      happen to it?

      One might be tempted to dismiss such questions as inane, for although they may be imagined, they can never be realized. We should not,
      however, forget that in modem science too, purely imaginary problems play an important role in so-called thought-experiments. These consist of imaginary events and situations, and lead to deductions based on axioms, postulates and hypotheses.

      R. Hooykaas, Fact, Faith and Fiction in the Development of Science
      © Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999
      118 CHAPTER V
      elaborated or modified his commentaries on Aristotle.4 The ideas of the Buridan
      school were still taught at Cracow university when Copernicus studied there in
      1491,5 and the writings of Lawrence of Lindores in particular became known
      throughout Middle and Eastern Europe.
      In St Andrews, however, after Lindores’s death the tables were…


    • Patrice Ayme Says:



  3. Richard Benish Says:

    I’ve been aware that Galileo was not the first to think of a Small Low-Energy Non-Collider (as the needed apparatus may be called) but since he is the most famous of the bunch, I associate the idea with him for marketing reasons.

    A recent book by Martin Beech (Going Underground) discusses some of the history of the idea. A whole book about it and yet not a word about the importance of actually DOING the experiment.

    I suppose Galileo is rolling in his grave at how unscientific PhDizzix has become.

    The most recent proposal to do an experiment (to measure G) that would have used a “Deep Space” Small Low-Energy Non-Collider is by Feldman et al.

    Click to access 1605.02126.pdf

    I wrote to Feldman and his co-authors (who include the astrophysicist Virginia Trimble) to share a paper urging that a “Near Space” version of their experiment be constructed first as a proof of concept. Trimble responded positively, but I did not hear from the others.


    How much longer will the spirit of Galileo have to wait?


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Galileo is famous… But he was a less major thinker than Buridan

      Anyway I don’t understand what spirit of Galileo we are missing…


      • Richard Benish Says:

        The spirit of Galileo is to back up predictions with empirical evidence. It is to do a scaled-down version of the experiment that he proposed.

        We do not really know whether the standard oscillation prediction is correct or not. Even if there were no reasons to suspect that something else entirely would happen, the ideals of science dictate that, when possible, standard “wisdom” should be TESTED and backed up by direct empirical evidence.

        I have corresponded with physicists about this for many years. The record shows that almost all physicists are to eager to pretend to know the result of an experiment that’s never been carried out. Totally unscientific attitude. Totally dogmatic response. A compendium of this correspondence is to be found here:



        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          What do you object to exactly?
          Not all experiments need to be performed. Throwing a 437.5 kilogram cow from the top of Yosemite’s El Capitan above the Nose Route has never been conducted, but the results are not in doubt.


          • Richard Benish Says:

            It was not very long ago that there was no doubt that the Sun and stars orbited the Earth.

            Your example is similar to the gaslighting response I got from Robert Geroch at the University of Chicago. He wrote:

            “Nobody (as far as I know!) has measured the acceleration of gravity by dropping a billiard ball painted blue with orange spots, all the while witnessed by a male duck. Why not carry out this experiment?”

            Just to be clear, the matter at hand is gravity-induced radial motion through the centers of massive bodies. A circumstance that no human or any other species has yet witnessed, regardless of color.

            Berkeley astrophysicist Marc Davis tried to argue that we don’t need to do the experiment by suggesting two different analogies: 1) The common one that circular motion is mathematically similar to the linear oscillation prediction: simple harmonic motion. And 2) He proposed doing an experiment with electrostatics that would also generate linear oscillation.

            I objected to the first argument because in one case the force is constant and the direction changes (circle); whereas in the other case the direction is linear but the force changes. Possibly still analogous. It behooves us as scientists to demonstrate it physically.

            I objected to the second argument because in one case the force is bipolar (N-S, or +/-); but in the gravitational case the force is monopolar. Possibly still analogous. It behooves us as scientists to demonstrate it physically.

            It is widely understood that, at every possible opportunity, physicists are supposed to pay lip service to empiricism, to uphold the image of open-minded objectivity. Thus the Royal Society’s motto, “Nullius in Verbum,” is stated as being

            “. . . an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment.”

            Astronomer Bradley Shaefer has explained that

            “Science advances by exploring unexplored regions and by performing critical tests of standard wisdom.”

            A hole through the center of a massive body is an unexplored region. Seeing what happens to a test mass in the hole is a critical test of standard wisdom. Standard wisdom is not doubted or questioned only because of habitual deference to the authority of Newton and/or Einstein.

            Finally, four of my correspondents (including Nobel Prize winner Rainer Weiss and his LIGO colleague David Shoemaker) have characterized the experiment as one that would be “fun.” Surely any child with a scientific curiosity or sense of wonder would be delighted to see the test object falling into a source mass. Why do physicists trample their empirical ideals, deny themselves this fun, and squelch the testimony of Nature?

            I think a major reason is that they are EMBARRASSED to admit that they have not conducted this experiment long ago. So they just pretend to know what would happen if they did. In any case, the “reasons” have little to do with physics and a lot to do with sociology. They all have the unimpressive character of lame excuses.

            Click to access Gravity-Sociology-Dec-2015.pdf


          • Patrice Ayme Says:

            I am impressed that Geroch and me got the same idea, spotted duck repeating all the human physics in their little ponds…
            Gravity with linear motion has been checked to some extent (pendulum). Anyway question would be this: why would you expect a different result from what theory predicts, from such an experience???…

            I DO have experiences which predict different results from conventional Quantum theory, but I have an excellent reason for that…


          • Richard Benish Says:

            Why are you “impressed” that you and Geroch got the same idea? Geroch’s idea arose in the course of a most disrespectful attempt to gaslight me, as is made clear in the linked document of our correspondence.


            Why do you repeat irrelevancies concerning gravity being checked with pendulums (whose motion paths are not linear, but arced), when the case at hand is a kind of motion that humans have never yet witnessed? (Not even close.)

            If you are really interested in reasons for suspecting that the standard answer may be incorrect, then I recommend reading the document linked earlier


            One of the arguments presented there concerns General Relativity’s prediction that clock rates are a minimum at the center of a body of matter. Over the surface of spherical mass, the Schwarzschild coefficients for spatial and temporal curvature are reciprocals of each other, which seems reasonable. Below the surface the coefficient for spatial curvature approaches and reaches the flat value of unity at the center, which also seems reasonable. But the temporal coefficient deviates from the above-surface reciprocal relationship. Instead, clock rates are supposed to get ever slower, and reach a minimum at the center.

            Why is that? What makes it happen? I don’t mean “geometry,” as many a relativist would answer. I mean PHYSICALLY, what makes a clock at the center of a symmetrical distribution of matter run slow. I don’t think it makes sense. I think, on the basis symmetry and by analogy with a body undergoing rotation, a clock at the center (analogous to a rotation axis) should have a maximum rate, not minimum.

            Due to the smallness of the effect, it is not possible to directly check this prediction with clocks. But the clock rate prediction is directly correlated with the prediction for a test object dropped to the center. If the rate of a clock at the center is a maximum and not a minimum, then the test object’s motion will not be simple harmonic oscillation.

            Here then is a reason to suspect a non-standard result. But even if this reason did not exist, it behooves us as scientists to do the experiment anyway. I stand by my assessment that professional embarrassment accounts for a large part of the physics community’s response to shirk their empirical ideals and just walk away, pretending to know the result instead of establishing it as a physical fact.

            How difficult would it be, upon having the Small Low-Energy Non-Collider proposal brought to one’s attention, to simply admit: “Hey yeah, looks like we’ve missed a spot. Let’s take care of that right away. Good old Galileo. He’d be glad we did.” Compared to many other experimental pursuits in physics these days, a Small Low-Energy Non-Collider is child’s play.

            The impression I’ve gotten from my interactions (and sometimes from the literature) is that physicists like to think of themselves as having transcended the need to back up such elementary questions with physical facts. They are proud of their authority and have no qualms about thinking their guesses are better than Nature’s facts.


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