# Speed of gravity

@ OP and others

I'm not sure if u people are aware of this, but, if in case not, a paper published in physics letters A (Publisher: Elsevier Sciences), the speed of gravity is 2*10^10 c, where c is of course, the speed of light. I posted it's link in my previous post, but has been deleted, and I've been warned not to post it again. However, the citation details of that article are,

Tom Van Flandern, Physics Letters A 250:1-11 (1998)

This may not be the ultimate truth, but is a publication in a peer-reviewed journal none the less...

Regards,

Mitesh Patel

The only number with order of magnitude so large that I respect is Plank's constant with -34 orders. He got a valid equation to back him up. Now the next constant with more than 5 orders going to put doubt in me until I examine the derivation.

Hans de Vries
Gold Member
Tom Van Flandern, Physics Letters A 250:1-11 (1998)

This may not be the ultimate truth, but is a publication in a peer-reviewed journal none the less...

Tom Van Flandern also claims that mars was inhabited by humans or human like beings....

Maybe you understand why your link (to his website) was removed. As far as the 1998
paper concerns, it is wrong. It has been discussed here multiple times as well as on
sci.physics.research (with http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/gr-qc/9909087" and John Baez)

Where does Tom Van Flandern go wrong?

He assumes that the direction of the force, gravitational or electric, is always pointing
to the place where the source was at the moment that the force field was emitted.

This assumption, as we now know more than a century (!), is wrong. The electric field
of a moving charge points to the place where the charge will be if it continuous
moving in the same direction during the time the force field needs to propagate.

The same is true for gravitation. In practice this means for the dynamics of the solar
system that the force is towards the location where the planet or sun is at that moment.

This can be measured and Van Flandern erroneously concluded that this means that
gravity must be instantaneous. Because the force is directed to the location where
the object is and not to where it was. His conclusion is a beginners error which
unfortunately made it into a peer reviewed journal.

For the math in case of the electric field, see for instance the links to my book in the

Regards, Hans.

Last edited by a moderator:
Tom Van Flandern also claims that mars was inhabited by humans or human like beings....

Where does Tom Van Flandern go wrong?

He assumes that the direction of the force, gravitational or electric, is always pointing
to the place where the source was at the moment that the force field was emitted.

This assumption, as we now know more than a century (!), is wrong. The electric field
of a moving charge points to the place where the charge will be if it continuous
moving in the same direction during the time the force field needs to propagate.

The same is true for gravitation. In practice this means for the dynamics of the solar
system that the force is towards the location where the planet or sun is at that moment.

This can be measured and Van Flandern erroneously concluded that this means that
gravity must be instantaneous. Because the force is directed to the location where
the object is and not to where it was. His conclusion is a beginners error which
unfortunately made it into a peer reviewed journal.

For the math in case of the electric field, see for instance the links to my book in the

Regards, Hans.
One question. I apologize if I've missed something. Is the exchange of information between a point in space-time and the center of gravity limited by c? I assume that you're not suggesting that information is exchanged instantaneously.

Last edited by a moderator:
Hans de Vries
Gold Member
One question. Is the exchange of information between a point in space-time and the center of gravity limited by c?
Yes.

Regards, Hans

rbj
The constant denoted c is as you say, THE universal constant. It places a limit on how fast anything capable of conveying information can go. Since gravity can convey information, it's limited as such.
Yes, as dst eloquently points out, c is THE limit, not just on light.
... but, just to dot t's and cross i's, the consequence is that c is THE limit, because to overuse a metaphor, in the fabric of space and time, all fundamental interactions propagate at this finite speed c in a vacuum. these fundamental interactions don't propagate at a speed slower than c (which ostensibly wouldn't violate the concept of a limit of c) nor do they propagate at a speed faster than c. since some kinda physical interaction is needed to convey information (i nudge at the string on my end and the string nudges you at your end), the speed limit of c comes about because the speed of propagation of any fundamental interaction in a vacuum is c. and this finite speed of propagation is a property of space and time, not of the interaction.

now, if i understand this right (which may not be the case), because, in a non-vacuum, this interaction does interact with matter that comes in between (if the interaction is EM, charged particles disturbed by the propagating EM wave move around and, in that motion, themselves create an EM wave where, all combined, results in an EM wave with group velocity that is slower than c), the physical disturbance that conveys information may end up moving at a slower speed.

Last edited:
rbj
This is probably another post, but why is the universal constant of the speed of light such a sacred cow in GR and why should it determine the speed of gravity which is more than likely an entirely different beast?
i think it's because this speed of propagation is not a function of which beast is creating a disturbance. whether it's me moving electric charge around (with this device we call an "antenna") causing a disturbance in electric charges in your antenna, or something much bigger than me moving the masses of stars around (like supernovae) causing disturbances in matter that are difficult to measure, it's not an issue of which beastly interaction is doing the disturbing (they all "want" to be instantaneous). it's an issue of the nature of space and time that if you are equal distant from some point of cause "A" and some other point of effect "B", when you observe the cause at A, you will see the consequence of that cause as a disturbance at B at a later time that is proportional to the distance that B is from A. doesn't matter what the cause is; gravity, E&M, weak nuclear, or strong nuclear. (not that we will ever observe a distant interaction of the latter two.)

To build on what has already been said:

The speed of light is considered a constant in GR because it is postulated as such in SR, and SR is just a limited subset of GR. Also, every observation to date has upheld that postulate.

Also, once you establish that a given speed is constant for all observers, it follows logically that this speed is also the ultimate speed limit for information.
but that's true for information conveyed with E&M? (if all you established is the speed of light is the same for all observers.) but what if gravitational disturbances were instantaneous? then, conceptually, one could convey information instantaneously by triggering supernovae with morse code. it's the speed limit (both upper and lower) for all physical interactions traversing a vacuum that makes it the speed limit for conveying information unless someone postulates a means of conveying information that requires no physical interaction.

A non-field form of electromagnetism can be seen at johnwilliams22dothi5dotcom, posted anonymously. The same theorem can be used for Newton's gravity law, but it needs to be corrected by a factor to account for the fact that the force is proportional to the total energy of the mass that is being acted. This factor is the lorentz factor of the source transformed from a stationary reference frame to that of the influenced mass.

Observations of the adherence of gravity to this formula and those which also assume that the propagation is equal to c (Einstein's) might be used to verify that gravity propagates at the speed c, but only in situations when the source of the gravity changes speed can relevant observations be made. This is because for a uniformly moving source, the formula so derived does not depend on the gravitational force actually moving at c. It only uses a hypothetical speed equal to c. It is, however, assumed that the speed is c.

According to VSL techniques, the speed c is not constant. Light exiting a black hole would stop. The local speed of light at that location would be the one used in the Lorentz factor, so extreme relativistic effects would be seen by an outside observer.

A mistake was made in the previous post. All speeds would slow proportionally, so extreme relativistic effects wouldn't necessarily be see.

Could it be possible that gravity propagates at the angular velocity of an electro-magnetic wave?

In his book The Fabric of the Cosmos, Brian Greene writes, "Einstein was able to work this out, " and he found that the speed at which gravity can transmit it's influence is exactly the speed of light. "...the warps and ripples-gravity, that is-do not travel from place to place instantaneously, as they do in Newtonian calculations of gravity." Greene then gives an interesting example of what would happen if aliens removed the moon from its orbit. It would take one and a half seconds for the tides to be affected. Exactly the time it would take for us to see that the moon had vanished.

The "speed of gravitational information" is c. The "speed of electrical information" is also c. Both can easily escape a black hole. But nothing inside the black hole can generate any "waves". Only "normal" fields escape, kinda like the poster who mentioned infinitely long red shifting.

So: Charged particles fall into a black hole. The charge on the black hole changes. This this electric field change propagates out at the speed c. But if charges are somehow moving around inside the black hle - [[An entirely different question: Can they?]] - then no apparent effects from the moving charges would go outside the hole. Likewise, if massees fall into the hole, the increase in gravity goes out at c, but if masses are spiraling around inside the hole, no "gravity waves" would exit the hole.

Right?

-Harry Wertmuller

The speed of gravity isn't constant though. It is different at different locations. I'll give you a link if you want.

The speed of gravity isn't constant though. It is different at different locations. I'll give you a link if you want.
Umm. You should give that link, because its currently accepted as a constant. Are you refering to the theory of MOND?

Would surely appreciate a reliable reference explaining where speed of gravity is different.

I can give you a link for a uniform gravitational field (or uniform acceleration). I'm thinking of posting a more complete account. I post on hi5, username johnwilliams22.

sorry, user name john williams

I have been curious to find an answer to that question too.

Suppose that at 12pm one marks the position of the Sun (as it was ~8 min in the past) and also at 12pm one marks the position of the gravity pull (I don't know whether there are instruments that can do that yet). Would the two positions be the same?

A similar question is whether the Earth rotates around the actual position of the Sun or around the position of the Sun as it was ~8 min in the past.

DaveC426913
Gold Member
I have been curious to find an answer to that question too.

Suppose that at 12pm one marks the position of the Sun (as it was ~8 min in the past) and also at 12pm one marks the position of the gravity pull (I don't know whether there are instruments that can do that yet). Would the two positions be the same?
Yes. Light and gravity both lag by 8 minutes.

A similar question is whether the Earth rotates around the actual position of the Sun or around the position of the Sun as it was ~8 min in the past.
"Actual" is a tricky term here. Since nothing can travel faster than c, it's kind of moot to talk about "actual" position.