Can you escape the force of gravity?

Apr 08, 2014 by Fraser Cain, Universe Today
Earth and Moon, seen from Galileo

It feels like you just can't get away from clingy gravity. Even separated by distances of hundreds of millions of light years, gravity is reaching out to all of us. Is there a place you could go to get away from gravity entirely?

Fortunately for our space intolerant tissues and terrible oxygen dependency withdrawal symptoms, binds us to our sweet, cozy home with breathable air, the Earth. Its collective mass is trying to accelerate you towards its center, that way, at 9.8 meters per second squared. But the Earth isn't the only one looking to cuddle.

You're also being pulled at by the Moon, and if it weren't for the Earth here, that pull could hurl you far off into deep space, or crash you into its cold dusty surface. In fact, as the Moon passes overhead, you're being imperceptibly tugged upwards. This possessive tug o war isn't just between the moon, and the earth fighting over you like an older brother keeping a small doll out of reach a younger sibling.

The Sun is also in on this shenanigan. Gravity from there is pulling at you from a distance of 150 million km. Well, aren't we popular. So how far would you have to go to escape this gravitational custody battle completely?

Even At 2.5 million distance, gravity is still reaching out and being a clingy creeper. The Milky Way and Andromeda are pulling towards each other. The gravity between these two bodies is strong enough to overcome the expansion of the universe. Which will result in a galactic smash-up derby a few billion years from now.

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There's no end to it. Gravity appears to be madly greedy and long armed. Members of the Virgo Super cluster are connected to each other, and they're dozens of millions of light-years apart. Objects in the Pisces-Cetus Super cluster complex are even connected to each other by our invisible and obnoxiously possessive friend. And they are hundreds of millions of light years apart…

In fact, you're so popular that you are gravitationally pulled towards even most distant object in the observable Universe. And they, in turn, are linked to you. As a result, without the outward expansion and acceleration of the Universe, everything would fall inward to a common center of gravity. Newton thought that gravity was instantaneous and if the Sun disappeared, the Earth would immediately fly away. Einstein realized that gravity is distortions of spacetime caused by mass. And as it turns out, gravity moves at the speed of light.

If the Sun disappeared, Earth would continue to follow the curved spacetime distortion for 8 whole minutes. Interactions between massive objects, like when black holes collide, cause ripples in spacetime called gravitational waves. As a gravitational wave passes through, you get warped in spacetime, like a wave in the water. The amount is so slight we've never seen them directly. However, the decay of pulsar orbits have shown them indirectly.

Artist’s impression of gravitational waves. Credit: NASA

The ground-based LIGO experiment might someday detect a gravitational wave, but there's been no luck so far. The Space-based LISA experiment should detect with more precision. The first version will launch in 2015, but the real experiment probably won't be operational until 2030.

Everybody wants a piece, and I don't know about you, I just want to be left alone. Gravity's is reach is amazingly far. It's everywhere, all the time, and it's having none of that. What do you think? If you had the power to remove yourself from Gravity's pull, what would you do? Tell us in the comments below.

Explore further: Can light orbit a black hole?

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User comments : 29

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nonphysicist
5 / 5 (3) Apr 08, 2014
But isn't gravity assumed to be quantized ("gravitons")? If so, wouldn't there be an imaginable distance that is so far from some mass that the gravity pull from it falls below one quantum? And would then have to be zero, no?
Spadia
Apr 08, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (8) Apr 08, 2014
If so, wouldn't there be an imaginable distance that is so far from some mass that the gravity pull from it falls below one quantum? And would then have to be zero, no?

If gravity is quantized then at large distances there would just be less and less gravitational interactions per second. So as long as gravitons reach you there would be no point where there is zero gravity. It would just stutter at an infinitesimal level of individual gravitational interactions with increasingly long intervals.
Much like with a lightbulb that emits a finite number of photons per second. Move far enough away and the number of photons per second that go through an arbitrarily large portion of a sphere centered on the bulb become arbitrarily low.

You only get no gravity effect if the sources are so far apart (due to the ongoing inflation of the universe) that they are being moved away from each other at faster than the speed of gravity (which is presumed to be the speed of light).
arom
1 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2014
…. Einstein realized that gravity is distortions of spacetime caused by mass. And as it turns out, gravity moves at the speed of light.

According to Einstein general relativity, gravity moves at the speed of light is just an assumption without explanation how it works, maybe this mechanism could help to visualize …
http://www.vacuum...=7〈=en
j_hiller81
5 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2014
I think I remember reading something that was proposed a couple of years ago regarding the Higgs mechanism that might (possibly) offer a way to escape the influence of gravity. If, by some means, one had the option of disabling the Higgs field surrounding a given object, shouldn't this annul any gravitational interaction between it and other objects?

(This is of course if it is at all possible to manipulate Higgs fields in such a manner, which seems to be a pretty big 'if').

Thoughts on this?
Pejico
Apr 08, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
WillieWard
1 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2014
Gravity is so insignificant in comparison to magnetic and electric forces. The gravity force is very, very weak, about 36 powers of ten weaker than the electric force. http://astrorevie...-so-weak
baudrunner
1 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2014
If the way I understand gravity is correct, and it's pretty tough to argue with, then it is possible to escape gravity by reorienting all of those space units, or gravitons if you will, which are currently being displaced by the object that you want to escape gravity in by flipping the normal orientation of those "gravitons", on the side of the object facing the surface that you want to escape from, by 180°. That's how the Rigelians do it.
Mimath224
not rated yet Apr 08, 2014
Just a very small point point. If gravity is caused by mass trying to escape one's own (minute) g field is like trying to lose your own shadow is it not?
Bob Osaka
not rated yet Apr 09, 2014
That's easy, just take a flight of imagination. I don't know about you all but my imagination isn' t bound by gravity.What would I do? Well, thanks to Sir Newton this whole physics thing along with the scientific method all started with the idea of gravity. Still not well understood,is it? LIGO's got nothing yet. Staring at a laser, waiting for something to bump it, isn't working,huh? Perhaps you got this gravity wave all wrong. Take electromagnetism, you have two poles to work with, gravity seems to only have one. Where's the other pole? It went flying off within nanoseconds of the big bang. Somebody said gravity was weak, seems to be doing a good job of holding this space/time together. Back to what would I do? I'd invent a gravity Marconi linking the constant and the variable frequencies and go flying off at inflationary speeds. If gravity doesn't hold me, why should any of the other laws? I'd zip around the universe at billions of c. See beyond the light we see.
AmritSorli
1 / 5 (4) Apr 09, 2014
Searching for GW makes nosense because they are not existent. Gravity is not propagating as electromagnetism is. Gravity is result of variable energy density of quantum vacuum. Comparing graviton with photon makes no sense. In Newton physics gravity is immediate in GR gravity is immediate.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2014
one had the option of disabling the Higgs field surrounding a given object, shouldn't this annul any gravitational interaction between it and other objects?

This would nullify inertia, but probably not gravitational mass snce they are mediated by different force carriers (Higgs boson and graviton). It's a really interesting question as it points to the possibility that inertia and gravitational mass aren't entirely connected (which would mean all kinds of possibilities for stuff like dark matter)

Gravity is so insignificant in comparison to magnetic and electric forces.

That's why, looking at the whole universe, stuff tends to be pretty electrically neutral 'locally'. With such a large force difference any charge potentials tend to move on top of one another quickly - and stay there.

It went flying off within nanoseconds of the big bang.

The big bang wasn't an explosion but an inflation. there is no 'off' direction in which it could have flown.
big_hairy_jimbo
not rated yet Apr 09, 2014
Well I'd climb a tree, then jump sideways and fly like superman from tree to tree.
Maybe launch a few satellites by throwing them into the air!!!
Laugh at insects and birds trying to fly.
Tie a rope to the ground and to myself, and do a reverse bungee jump.
Make a video of a pencil standing on its tip.
The list goes on!!!!
AmritSorli
1 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2014
Elementary particles spin generates variable energy density of Timeless Quantum Vacuum (TPV) which gives origin to mass and gravity.

By matter clockwise rotation of particles decreases energy density of TPV; the same is valid also for massive bodies, experiments are done with gyroscopes. By antimatter opposite clockwise rotation increases energy density of TPV which generates antigravity; the same is valid also for massive bodies, experiments are done with gyroscopes:

http://www.davidp...vity.htm
http://www.mario-...vity.pdf

baudrunner
1 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2014
Just a very small point point. If gravity is caused by mass trying to escape one's own (minute) g field is like trying to lose your own shadow is it not?
Gravity isn't caused by mass. It's caused by the displacement of space by a mass. Two bodies in space interact by affecting the volume of space between them when the "gravitons", or space units, that they are displacing are cancelled by their 180° phase relationship. So you see that there are no gravity waves.

@AmritSorli has some understanding of the principle. He says,
Gravity is result of variable energy density of quantum vacuum. Comparing graviton with photon makes no sense. In Newton physics gravity is immediate in GR gravity is immediate.

tonyrotz
1 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2014
I would surround my space ship with concentrated dark energy.
Pejico
Apr 09, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Gawad
5 / 5 (1) Apr 10, 2014
regarding the Higgs mechanism that might (possibly) offer a way to escape the influence of gravity. If one had the option of disabling the Higgs field surrounding a given object, shouldn't this annul any gravitational interaction between it and other objects?

Thoughts on this?
Gravity is only indirectly connected to the Higgs field. If you turn it off (as it was in the first instants of the BB) the particles that get their mass from interacting with it (e.g., the up and down quarks and electrons that make up ordinary matter) become massless and can no longer be bound into nucleons or atoms, and they fly apart at c. Not good for any kind of structure (matter) you apply this to. However, all of the energy that was in the rest mass of the particles AND the energy that went into binding them (and whatever energy you used to alter the Higgs field) is still in "local" space so gravity would only be affected as far as the mass/energy that was its source would be spreading out.
baudrunner
1 / 5 (2) Apr 11, 2014
The following represents a complete lack of understanding of the fundamental nature of reality:
Comparing graviton with photon indeed makes a lotta sense just because of these density fluctuations of vacuum. The photons are formed with packeting of transverse waves of vacuum with these density fluctuations, whereas the gravitons are formed with packeting of longitudinal waves of it, i.e. gravitational waves. Therefore the understanding of gravity with @AmritSorli is good maybe but it still could be better.
I'll bet you think that photons are light particles. You and everybody else who thinks that can leave the room.
Reg Mundy
1 / 5 (5) Apr 11, 2014
Ain't no gravity. Its all expansion.
Mimath224
5 / 5 (1) Apr 11, 2014
@baudrunner '
I'll bet you think that photons are light particles. You and everybody else who thinks that can leave the room.'
Don't be too harsh on us. I've read some good 'popular science' books but there are some that aren't so good too. Obviously the best comes from actual physics study but not everyone wants to do that. Classified as an Elementary Particle...Yes/No?
baudrunner
1 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2014
@Mimath224, sorry. I sometimes vent out of frustration - for whatever reason.

Classified as an Elementary Particle...Yes/No?
No. Photons represent the quanta of energy absorbed or emitted by particles (atoms/molecules) in the transmitting medium in a kind of chain reaction, wherein the oscillations of a transmitting particle are passed on to the adjacent particles in a continuous process of absorption and emission. Eventually those oscillations will occur on the retinas of the eyes, where their cones and rods convert the oscillations to bio-electrical impulses that travel the optic nerve to the occipital lobe, which translates the information into imagery in your brain, where we perceive light. Those cones and rods are little antennae that resonate to a limited range of frequencies. There can be no standard unit of energy for the photon, because that is a function of radiative intensity and frequency. 1 photon is therefore the energy absorbed or emitted by a single atom.
Osiris1
1 / 5 (2) Apr 12, 2014
It will be proved that the 'speed of gravity' is undefined as distance from the source is not a factor in the equation..............instantaneous across the universe! Gravity's distortions of space time are everywhere felt in three dimensions. Equipment used to measure it is electronic in nature and IS subject to so called 'speed limits', so its conclusions have to have this discounted for. However in the current climate, this is not 'politically correct'.
Mimath224
not rated yet Apr 12, 2014
@baudrunner, okay, right you proved my point. If you look up Std Md (Wiki for exp.) a photon listed and named as an Elementary Particle, a G. Boson, and it is only when one reads and studies deeper we find dual, em etc.. I guess the simple answer is that a photon is almost a Intangible fundamental quantity of energy that is difficult to define to the layman. Anyway thanks for taking the time to reply.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2014
Perhaps there is a universal Lagrange point somewhere where all gravity cancels out. Maybe special physics can happen there. Let's find it and make a big lump of Bose-Einstein condensate and see what happens.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Apr 13, 2014
I guess the simple answer is that a photon is almost a Intangible fundamental quantity of energy that is difficult to define to the layman
Why don't you get into the habit of posting accepted defs written by experts? This leads back to the source for more info and dweebs can't argue with it.

"A photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation, and the force carrier for the electromagnetic force, even when static via virtual photons."

-I dont think most laymen would have a problem with that .
Mimath224
5 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2014
@TheGhostofOtto1923 agreed! But that wasn't the original problem...My post from the std. mdl. was ''Cassified as an Elementary Partical' and my qusetion was '...Yes/No?' Reply was 'No!' Ha, haven't heard that term in a while 'dweebs'. Thanks for the comment.
phlox1
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2014
So, what the heck is this article about?!
swordsman
1 / 5 (3) Apr 14, 2014
Gravity is indeed an electromagnetic phenomenon. I proved it 15 years ago and wrote a book about it: "The Secret of Gravity". The hydrogen atom consists of just two electric charges. How could it be anything but and electromagnetic force.

www.science-site.net
Gawad
5 / 5 (4) Apr 14, 2014
Gravity is indeed an electromagnetic phenomenon. I proved it 15 years ago and wrote a book about it: "The Secret of Gravity". The hydrogen atom consists of just two electric charges. How could it be anything but and electromagnetic force.

http://www.science-site.net


OH NO!!! But, but, but...that means there's no electromagnetic force!!! Ask REG MUDDY! He PROVED there aints no Gravity, that it's all Expaaa....aaaaa...aaaaa......aaansion, so, so...if YOU'RE right then, GODS, electromagnet-ismiasma must also all be all Expaaa......aaaaaaaa...aaaaaa......aaaaansion! So, so...that MUST mean there's ain't no Gravity AND there's ain'ts no electricity, and there's ain'ts no magnetism (ask REG!!!) 'cause it's ALL just Expaaa......aaaaaaaaaaaa..........aaaaaaaaaaa......aaansion!

Awww, man, I'm soooooo confused!

Reality Check! Help us out, man, we NEED your Big ToE. like, NOW (National Organization for Women), man! HELP!!!
Reg Mundy
1 / 5 (4) Apr 14, 2014
@Gawhard
Stop mucking about, Gawp! I have no beef with electromagnetism, it is the basic force that creates gravity via orbiting fundamental particles in conjunction with expansion.
Gawad
5 / 5 (3) Apr 14, 2014
Doh, Reg! Why didn't you just SAY SO??? I'm just trying to put all this together, you know. It's anything but easy given that you and Baud and R_C and Zeph and the EU gang hardly try to work together, ya know. Somebody has to try to make sense of all that. (Heck, I've heard that that's what R_C's Big ToE is actually all about, ya know. Just sayin').

But maybe you can help (well, ya know, if I don't have too many rocks in my headn 'n all). So, like, how do the orbiting particles (Xist! You did, say ORBITS, didn't ya! Got ya, Got ya!!!). Well anyway, how do they fit in with SHiTS-AeWaT (Super High Tensile Strength A double-you Tee you know who's thingy there). So anyway, like, do all the particles have to orbit in only one direction, or can they, like, counter orbit? If the latter, how do they keep from colliding? Or do they not interact like that? You know, hitting each other? Or do they spiral out as I get bigger? How do they do that? Hey, that's the space gettin' bigger, ain't it!?
Pejico
Apr 14, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.