Is Anti-Gravity Possible and What Would it Mean for Space Travel?

In summary, the conversation discusses various aspects of gravity and space travel. It explains that gravity is not a property or thing, but rather the curvature of space and that while there may possibly be a graviton particle, it has not been observed yet. It also delves into the concept of motion being relative in space and how objects can appear to be floating even though they are moving at high speeds. The conversation also touches on the dangers of being separated from a spacecraft in space and potential methods for returning to it.
  • #1
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Hello all. I am clueless when it comes to physics and I don't know where to place this thread so i'll just place it here. My question is: Is gravity just a force of nothing or can you actually take a sample of it. For example can you look through a microscope and see the atom or whatever it is, graviton?

If this is possible is there any chance at all that there is a way to make that particual or atom or whatever it is negative. So instead of it pulling down, it just floats around doing nothing. I thing I don't understand is in space, people and objects float around because there's no gravity., but there must be gravity because the Earth and planets are held in position by gravity. If anti gravity was possible what would that mean in terms of space travel?

Sorry if its a dumb question but as I said I am clueless. Thanks for reading.
 
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  • #2
uperkurk said:
Hello all. I am clueless when it comes to physics and I don't know where to place this thread so i'll just place it here. My question is: Is gravity just a force of nothing or can you actually take a sample of it.
Our best theories indicate that gravity is not a property or thing, but that it is the curvature of space.

uperkurk said:
For example can you look through a microscope and see the atom or whatever it is, graviton?
Quantum mechanics proposes that may possibly be a graviton particle, yes. But no one's seen it.

uperkurk said:
I thing I don't understand is in space, people and objects float around because there's no gravity., but there must be gravity because the Earth and planets are held in position by gravity.
You're on the right track, good critical thinking. There is gravity in space. There is no place in the universe that is completely free of gravity; it extends to infinity.

What you're seeing when you see people and objects floating around is space is one of three things:

1] Most man-made obejcts are in orbit. They're racing around the Earth at 25,000mph. When the space shuttle, the space station and the astronauts are all in the same orbit, they float motionless with respect to each other. But rest assured, they are all moving at 25,000mph and falling toward the Earth under gravity all the while (they just miss it!).

2] Sometimes, if things are floating far enough away from any gravity body, they really are in very low gravity.

3] You could very well be falling toward the Earth (or Moon) at terminal velocity, along with other astronauts and obejcts, but you would not know it unless there is something with which to measure your speed. Itr owuld appear that you are floating motionless.
 
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  • #3
wow that's really interesting, so if you was to just jump out of your spaceship into space would you fall through space and constantly build up speed? So you could end up moving at 100,000 miles per hour and it would just seem like your floating around? lol. Is this is the case how long would an object have to fall through space to reach 100's of thousands of miles per hour. Is there an equation involved?
 
  • #4
uperkurk said:
wow that's really interesting, so if you was to just jump out of your spaceship into space would you fall through space and constantly build up speed?
Well, not quite. You would retain the velocity of your spaceship, so you'd merely float next to it. If your ship were in orbit, then so would you be.
uperkurk said:
So you could end up moving at 100,000 miles per hour and it would just seem like your floating around? lol.
Yes. Einstein's legacy of relativity is that motion is relative. There is no absolute motion, only motion relative to some reference point. If you are floating around in space, the only way you can claim you are moving at all is to measure your motion relative to an object of your choosing.


uperkurk said:
Is this is the case how long would an object have to fall through space to reach 100's of thousands of miles per hour. Is there an equation involved?
There is. But it's complex because in this case, the gravitational force would not be a constant. You'd start of hundreds of thousand of miles away where gravity is much more weak. It would take a loooong time. Weeks. Months.
 
  • #5
Thanks for the answer dave. Helped me understand a lot more but one more thing I would like to add is if you for example was standing on the wing of your spaceship and fell off and started to float away would it be possible to do a swimming motion to get back or are you at the mercy of gravity or whatever :)
 
  • #6
uperkurk said:
Thanks for the answer dave. Helped me understand a lot more but one more thing I would like to add is if you for example was standing on the wing of your spaceship and fell off and started to float away would it be possible to do a swimming motion to get back or are you at the mercy of gravity or whatever :)

You couldn't swim back. That only works in an atmo or in water.

If you became separated from your ship, you would be in very grave danger. Unless you can jerry-rig some method for propulsion, you would drift away inexorably and eventually die. Space is very unforgiving.

But you're not dead yet. What you could do is detach any non-essential pieces of equipment from your suit and throw them in the opposite direction. The reactionary force will (hopefully) propel you back toward your craft. Even more desparate, you could find a way to vent some of your oxygen and use that as a propulsive force.
 
  • #7
But there's no resistence in space so how would throwing things behind you propel you forward? As I said I am very curious so that's why I am asking all these random questions :)
 
  • #8
uperkurk said:
But there's no resistence in space so how would throwing things behind you propel you forward? As I said I am very curious so that's why I am asking all these random questions :)
Asking questions is great. 'twould that more people did so. :approve:

Newton's First Law: Any action generates an equal and opposite reaction. It works in space quite nicely. It's how rockets propel themselves in space.
 
  • #9
ok one last question lol. Once inspace, would a massive square block of concrete be capable of falling through space at the same velocity as let's say a dart shaped rock? Would an aerodynamically shaped object pick up more speed faster then an object that isn't aerodynamic if where both cut lose at the same time?
 
  • #10
DaveC426913 said:
Newton's First Law: Any action generates an equal and opposite reaction. It works in space quite nicely. It's how rockets propel themselves in space.

Dave is partially correct, but he is actually referring to Newton's third law of motion. However, this way of phrasing the law is somewhat antiquated, and cannot be interpreted literally. This often causes the law to be misinterpreted. What exactly constitutes an action, and what is the correct reaction?

For example, I have actually heard people that thought the law could be applied to the stock market: a stock goes down in price (an action), therefore there must be an equal and opposite reaction, therefore the stock must go back up in price an equal amount at a later time. Of course, that is completely incorrect! As you can see this way of stating the law is not actually useful.

A much more intuitive explanation for why you can propel yourself through space by throwing things behind you results from the law of conservation of linear momentum. This law means that in a closed system (ie, if there are no exterior influences), the total momentum of the system stays constant.

Momentum equation:
P = M*V

(P is momentum, M is mass, V is velocity)

Now, for the closed system we can consider the astronaut who is floating in space. Because space is [mostly] empty, the only particles we need to consider are the atoms that make up the astronaut and whatever gear he is wearing. The fact that the system is closed means that we will not be considering things like other particles flying in and hitting him from the depths of space, which would obviously screw up our analysis.

Ok, so every particle in the spaceman's body has some mass and velocity. Because the atoms are all held together by magnetism (ie, chemical bonds), we can roughly consider the entire astronaut as 1 big particle with 1 mass and 1 velocity.

If the astronaut takes off his glove and throws it behind him, it now has a different velocity, so we need to consider that as a separate particle. Let's represent the mass of the glove as Mg, and the mass of the astronaut without the glove as Ma. The original velocity of the astronaut is V1, the velocity of the astronaut after throwing the glove is V2, and the velocity of the glove after he throws it is V3.

Initially, we have

P = (Ma + Mg) * V1

The law of conservation of momentum tells us that the total momentum P (which means adding up M*V for every particle) is going to remain constant no matter what those particles in the system do. After throwing the glove, we now have

P = Ma*V2 + Mg*V3

Now we can just use elementary algebra to find out what the velocity of the astronaut has to be:

(Ma + Mg) * V1 = Ma*V2 + Mg*V3
(Ma + Mg) * V1 - Mg*V3 = Ma*V2
V2 = ( (Ma + Mg) * V1 - Mg*V3 ) / Ma
V2 = (Ma + Mg)/Ma * V1 - Mg/Ma * V3

In order to understand the result, we don't actually care how massive the glove or the astronaut is, so let's create some arbitrary positive constants (a mass cannot be negative):

V2 = C1* V1 - C2* V3

Ok, let's say his initial velocity was going in the positive direction. Then he throws the glove behind him, which means V3 is in the negative direction. Two negatives make a positive, so that means his final velocity V1 is still going forward, but it's faster than it was before.

One of the consequences of the law of conservation of linear momentum is that the center of mass of all the particles will always stay in the same place. Using that logic, you can also understand why he can propel himself by throwing something behind him...if part of the mass is moving away, then he has to move forward in order to keep the center of mass of everything in the same spot.

I hope that clears up your question
 
  • #11
uperkurk said:
ok one last question lol. Once inspace, would a massive square block of concrete be capable of falling through space at the same velocity as let's say a dart shaped rock? Would an aerodynamically shaped object pick up more speed faster then an object that isn't aerodynamic if where both cut lose at the same time?

Aerodynamics do not matter in space. Otherwise the Borg ship (which is shaped like a cube) would have trouble chasing after the Enterprise!

The reason aerodynamics matter on Earth is because the air is a gas, meaning that it is composed of tons of little air particles bouncing around against each other. This is why air has pressure.

It's not hard to move through air at slow speeds, but the faster you are going, the more compressed all the particles in front of you become -- which makes them "more solid". If your ship is shaped with a point at the tip, then it can essentially squeeze through and push the air to either side of it relatively easily like an ice-breaker ship, but it would be a lot harder to push through it with a big fat square.

Space is empty. It's not a gas, so there are no particles bouncing around. There is nothing, so there's no need to worry about pushing against particles.
 
  • #12
junglebeast said:
Dave is partially correct, but he is actually referring to Newton's third law of motion.
How embarrassing.:blushing:
 
  • #13
ok thanks for that, I understand your answer about aerodynamics being important on Earth ofcourse but I just wondered about in space. But your other answer about the linear motion means absolutley nothing to me

V2 = (Ma + Mg)/Ma * V1 - Mg/Ma * V3

About as meaningful as saying %%^&^&"%^"$£%£$^^%

lol :P
 
  • #14
uperkurk said:
My question is: Is gravity just a force of nothing or can you actually take a sample of it. For example can you look through a microscope and see the atom or whatever it is, graviton?

Dave answered,

Our best theories indicate that gravity is not a property or thing, but that it is the curvature of space.

This is not exactly true. The truth is, the question you have asked is one of the greatest mysteries in all of physics.

There are currently two contradictory theories which can be used to explain gravity. One of them is General relativity, which treats gravity is a curvature of space time, with no associated particle. This theory gives us a mathematical model which can be evaluated in simulations and appears to work.

However, the standard model predicts that gravity is caused by a particle caused by the graviton, and it would also be capable of explaining the behavior of gravity. Nobody has been able to actually detect a graviton, so we can't accept the theory yet. However, the standard model has shown us that ALL of the other forces in the universe (electicity/magnetism/weak force (or electromagnetic force / electroweak force) and strong force) are caused by particles. Therefore, it is a very attractive notion that perhaps gravity, which is the only force in the universe we currently cannot explain, would also be caused by the interaction with a boson (eg, graviton particle).

In short, the answer to this question is likely to yield the grand unified theory of the universe which Einstein spent his life trying to find.

The scientific community is divided on the issue of whether or not GR or the standard model is correct in terms of the graviton.

It is not surprising that nobody has been able to detect a graviton yet -- this fact cannot be used as evidence against the graviton's existence, because by its nature, it is an extremely difficult particle to detect.

Unambiguous detection of individual gravitons, though not prohibited by any fundamental law, is impossible with any physically reasonable detector. The reason is simply the extremely low cross section for the interaction of gravitons with matter. For example, a detector the mass of Jupiter with 100% efficiency, placed in close orbit around a neutron star, would only be expected to observe one graviton every 10 years, even under the most favorable conditions. It would be impossible to discriminate these events from the background of neutrinos, and it would be impossible to shield the neutrinos without the shielding material collapsing into a black hole.

Rothman, Tony; and Stephen Boughn (November 2006). "Can Gravitons be Detected?". Foundations of Physics 36 (12): 1801–1825.

However, experiments to detect gravitational waves, which may be viewed as coherent states of many gravitons, are already underway (e.g. LIGO and VIRGO). Although these experiments cannot detect individual gravitons, they might provide information about certain properties of the graviton. For example, if gravitational waves were observed to propagate slower than c (the speed of light in a vacuum), that would imply that the graviton has mass.

Will, Clifford M. (February 1998). "Bounding the mass of the graviton using gravitational-wave observations of inspiralling compact binaries". Physical Review D 57 (4): 2061–2068.
 
  • #15
DaveC426913 said:
How embarrassing.:blushing:

It's all good. The best way to learn is by teaching :)
 
  • #16
uperkurk said:
ok thanks for that, I understand your answer about aerodynamics being important on Earth ofcourse but I just wondered about in space. But your other answer about the linear motion means absolutley nothing to me

V2 = (Ma + Mg)/Ma * V1 - Mg/Ma * V3

About as meaningful as saying %%^&^&"%^"$£%£$^^%
lol :P

In that case, perhaps you will understand the alternative explanation I gave at the bottom of the same post.
 
  • #17
Yes I understand it sort of. I'm going to try to think logically here lol. Matter is everything correct? Everything that exsists in our universe is matter. Gravity exsists as we know so there must be some physical "thing" to show its presence. Gravity is space curvature or something but there can't be a force of any kind that "acts physically" on something. Maybe gravity is just so small its impossible to detect the presence of it? Something you can feel and not see at all. All very confusing for me but here is an example I have. Helium is a natural "opposite" to gravity, put it in a balloon and it repels against the force of gravity with no propulsion or anything, it just goes upwards. 100% natrual. so somewhere in the helium atom or particle or molocule or whatever its called must be a certain part that acts negatively towards gravity? Or am I just going the complete wrong way here?
 
  • #18
uperkurk said:
ok thanks for that, I understand your answer about aerodynamics being important on Earth ofcourse but I just wondered about in space. But your other answer about the linear motion means absolutley nothing to me

V2 = (Ma + Mg)/Ma * V1 - Mg/Ma * V3

About as meaningful as saying %%^&^&"%^"$£%£$^^%

lol :P

Hold a ball, probably something has heavy as a basketball.

Stand on a weighing scale and be as still as possible so that the weighing scale reads a constant value. Now toss the ball up into the air and watch the scale while you are in the act of tossing it. You will see that you momentarily 'weigh more' than when you were standing still. Why? While you are pushing on the ball, the ball pushes back on you. This is an illustration of Newton's Third Law, which results in the conservation of momentum.

So if you throw stuff behind you, those "stuff" also pushed on you when you shoot them out. The mathematics that you were shown are the direct mathematical derivation of what everyone has been describing in words. Those mathematics are necessary because every physics has an underlying mathematical description. The existence of a proper mathematical description in this case ensures that our explanation here is not merely some hand-waving argument.

Zz.
 
  • #19
uperkurk said:
Matter is everything correct? Everything that exsists in our universe is matter.
No, There is energy.

And the four fundamental forces:
weak nuclear
strong nuclear
electromagnetic
gravity
 
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  • #20
ZapperZ said:
Hold a ball, probably something has heavy as a basketball.

Stand on a weighing scale and be as still as possible so that the weighing scale reads a constant value. Now toss the ball up into the air and watch the scale while you are in the act of tossing it. You will see that you momentarily 'weigh more' than when you were standing still. Why? While you are pushing on the ball, the ball pushes back on you. This is an illustration of Newton's Third Law, which results in the conservation of momentum.


Zz.

Thats a good way of explain it I understand now. The same as when your about to jump, you weigh more while your bending your legs and when you push down the scales shoot up. But your explanation is better.
 
  • #21
Dave, I find it absolutley outstanding how humans have come about to know all this. Not just everyday people but einstein and Newton for example. Being a species that knew nothing about anything and could only wonder. It's amazing to see how far we have progressed. I think it's about time another genius was born that could answer the questions we cant.
 
  • #22
DaveC

3] You could very well be falling toward the Earth (or Moon) at terminal velocity

I think the word 'terminal' was not correct in this context. If you are at terminal velocity you are not in free-fall, something is resisting motion.
 
  • #23
Carid said:
DaveC



I think the word 'terminal' was not correct in this context. If you are at terminal velocity you are not in free-fall, something is resisting motion.

I agree because the terminal velcocity of a falling body is about 120 mph? but in space it wouldn't be 120 mph would it.
 
  • #24
I was nit-picking a bit.
The velocity is unimportant.
'terminal velocity' implies 'no further acceleration' which is not the case in true free-fall.
 
  • #25
Carid said:
DaveC
I think the word 'terminal' was not correct in this context. If you are at terminal velocity you are not in free-fall, something is resisting motion.

omg, twice in one thread.

I've really got to stop posting while my girl Gabrielle Solise is on.
 
  • #26
Can someone please look at my post xD

Maybe gravity is just so small its impossible to detect the presence of it? Something you can feel and not see at all. All very confusing for me but here is an example I have. Helium is a natural "opposite" to gravity, put it in a balloon and it repels against the force of gravity with no propulsion or anything, it just goes upwards. 100% natrual. so somewhere in the helium atom or particle or molocule or whatever its called must be a certain part that acts negatively towards gravity? Or am I just going the complete wrong way here?
 
  • #27
uperkurk said:
Maybe gravity is just so small its impossible to detect the presence of it? Something you can feel and not see at all.

I already talked about this specifically in my reply regarding detection of the graviton...go back and read that.

Helium is a natural "opposite" to gravity, put it in a balloon and it repels against the force of gravity with no propulsion or anything, it just goes upwards. 100% natrual. so somewhere in the helium atom or particle or molocule or whatever its called must be a certain part that acts negatively towards gravity? Or am I just going the complete wrong way here?

Hehe...you couldn't be more wrong.

1) Gravity is a force that causes mutual attraction between particles that have mass.
2) Helium is a gas that is less dense than air. This causes it to float in air, in the same way that a boat floats in water because air is less dense than water. The helium is still affected by the force of gravity just as a boat is still affected by gravity.
 
  • #28
uperkurk said:
Can someone please look at my post xD

Maybe gravity is just so small its impossible to detect the presence of it? Something you can feel and not see at all. All very confusing for me but here is an example I have. Helium is a natural "opposite" to gravity, put it in a balloon and it repels against the force of gravity with no propulsion or anything, it just goes upwards. 100% natrual. so somewhere in the helium atom or particle or molocule or whatever its called must be a certain part that acts negatively towards gravity? Or am I just going the complete wrong way here?

Yes, as JungleBeast points out, don't think of helium as something that floats and defies gravity - it doesn't. Helium is simply lighter than air (we often intuitively think of air as weightless but it's not by any means - air weighs almost 15 pounds for every square inch.)
Helium is displaced by heavy air in the exact same way that air is displaced by water (which is why lakes don't float in the sky).
 

1. Is anti-gravity possible?

The concept of anti-gravity, or the ability to counteract the effects of gravity, is a popular topic in science fiction. However, according to our current understanding of physics, there is no evidence to suggest that anti-gravity is possible. Gravity is a fundamental force of nature and is deeply rooted in the fabric of our universe. While scientists continue to explore and study the possibilities of manipulating gravity, at this time, anti-gravity remains a theoretical concept.

2. How would anti-gravity impact space travel?

If anti-gravity were to be developed and harnessed, it could have a significant impact on space travel. Currently, we rely on rocket propulsion to launch spacecraft into orbit and beyond. This method requires a tremendous amount of fuel and is limited by the laws of physics. With anti-gravity technology, spacecraft could potentially counteract the effects of gravity, making it easier and more efficient to travel through space. This could drastically reduce the cost and time involved in space exploration.

3. Can anti-gravity be used to defy the laws of physics?

No, anti-gravity cannot be used to defy the laws of physics. While it may seem like anti-gravity technology would allow us to overcome the limitations imposed by gravity, it is still subject to the laws of physics. Any manipulation of gravity would still have to follow the fundamental rules of the universe, including the conservation of energy and momentum.

4. Are there any potential risks associated with anti-gravity technology?

As with any new technology, there are potential risks and challenges that would need to be addressed with anti-gravity. One concern is the potential destabilization of Earth's gravitational field if anti-gravity were to be used on a large scale. Another risk is the possibility of unintended consequences, such as disrupting the orbits of planets and other celestial bodies. These risks would need to be carefully studied and mitigated before implementing anti-gravity technology.

5. How close are we to developing anti-gravity technology?

Currently, there is no anti-gravity technology that has been successfully developed and tested. While there have been some experiments and theories proposed, we are still far from harnessing anti-gravity in a practical and reliable way. The study of anti-gravity is an ongoing area of research, and it is difficult to predict when or if it will ever become a reality.

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