Why can we shield some forces but not others?

• Naty1
In summary, the conversation discusses the concept of shielding against electromagnetic and nuclear radiations, and why it is not possible to shield against gravity. The equations of general relativity and Maxwell's equations are compared, with one important difference being that Maxwell's equations allow for superposition, which is how most shielding works, while general relativity does not. The conversation also explores the idea of negative gravitational charge and the potential for gravitational shielding through the use of repulsive gravity. However, there are theoretical problems with this concept, and it is not a practical idea.
Naty1
I'm wondering why we can shield ourselves from electromagnetic and nuclear radiations but not gravity.
Are there any mathematical suggestions/insights/explanations? (I'd hope for a written explanation/interpretation rather than a long string of formulas!)

I'm pretty sure no one knows the physical reasons for this but am wondering if the equations of general relativity compared with maxwell's equations, for instance, offer any suggestions or insights. There are similarities between electromagnetic and gravitational field formulations but differences as well...are there hints in those differences? Seems interesting that the three forces (strong,weak, electromagnetic) we have unified mathematically can all be shielded yet gravity cannot. alpha,beta,gammas rays, photons,etc. can all be shielded..."gravitons" apparently cannot.

You can't shield against fictitious forces for the simple reason that they aren't real. Gravity is a fictitious force.

One very important difference between the equations are that Maxwell's equations are linear and therefore obey the principle of superposition (this is how most shielding actually happens) while the EFE are non-linear and do not allow superposition. Another important difference is that there appears to be no negative gravitational charge.

I don't know if there are other reasons, perhaps more fundamental, but that is what popped into my mind on reading your question.

One reason we can be shielded from electric fields is that electric charge comes in two types: positive and negative.

In addition, note that electromagnetism and gravity are long-range forces... whereas nuclear forces are not.

Naty1 said:
I'm wondering why we can shield ourselves from electromagnetic and nuclear radiations but not gravity.

Gravity is not a radiation, either a wave type or particulate, if that's the right word, so can't really be blocked by something made of matter. I suppose you could nullify its effect by getting another Earth type body hovering just above your head.

If you want to read more online about how electromagentic fields are sheilded google "Faraday cage". I think that's what you are thinking off.
Jeff

Does a Faraday cage actually stop an electric field? The way I understand it, any magnetic field causes the charges to rearrange within the conductor making the cage. The way the charges rearrange they make another field that exactly cancels the original field or EMP or whatever. Like sound canceling headphones

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Gravity is a fictitious force.

Ah, interesting point: So I CAN shield myself from gravity by freefalling?? That's equivalent to an inertial frame and gravity effectively disappears?

Dalespam posted:
One very important difference between the equations are that Maxwell's equations are linear and therefore obey the principle of superposition (this is how most shielding actually happens) while the EFE are non-linear and do not allow superposition. Another important difference is that there appears to be no negative gravitational charge.

How does superposition relate to shielding? Now that I think about it I don't know exactly how shielding works.

Is there positive gravitational charge? What is that?? But there IS negative gravity via negative pressure, the effect of dark energy...the cosmological constant...could such repulsive gravity be harnessed to offset positive gravitational attraction?? never thought of that! Brian Greene has a one liner to that effect in FABRIC OF THE COSMOS: to the effect that negative pressure and repulsive gravity overcomes the attractive gravity of mass and energy at cosmological distances...all we would need is an amplifier! (just joking.)

I just posted about negative pressure/repulsive gravity that at another current thread:

According to Wikipedia at

the mechanisms for RF shielding and magnetic shielding are different:
...metal alloys such as Permalloy and Mu-metal[1]...materials don't block the magnetic field, as with electric shielding, but rather draw the field into themselves, providing a path for the magnetic field lines around the shielded volume.

I'm not sure I understand just what's at work here, but it would seem the term "shielding" has multiple meanings...that it is effected via different mechanisms.
So unless someone else posts with further insights, I'm leaving this discussion with the idea that gravitational "shielding" , cancellation, of some sort might be theoretically possible based on my post # 8:

Brian Greene has a one liner to that effect in FABRIC OF THE COSMOS: to the effect that negative pressure and repulsive gravity overcomes the attractive gravity of mass and energy at cosmological distances...

This is not a totally serious comment.
There are theoretical problems raised by the notion of 'gravitational shielding'. In Jules Verne's book 'Journey to the Moon' (?) he proposes Cavorite, a substance that shields gravity. A disc of Cavorite held horizontally ( parallel to the ground) will shield everything above it from the Earth's gravity. So a conical column of the atmoshere will be pressureless and blast outwards. How does one make or store this stuff ? If it occurred naturally in the earth, it would jeopardize the geological integrity and the planet might disintegrate along the 'gravitational fault line'.

Obviously this Cavorite is not a practical idea. Where can I get some dilithium crystals ?

Mentz114 said:
This is not a totally serious comment.
There are theoretical problems raised by the notion of 'gravitational shielding'. In Jules Verne's book 'Journey to the Moon' (?) he proposes Cavorite, a substance that shields gravity. A disc of Cavorite held horizontally ( parallel to the ground) will shield everything above it from the Earth's gravity. So a conical column of the atmoshere will be pressureless and blast outwards. How does one make or store this stuff ? If it occurred naturally in the earth, it would jeopardize the geological integrity and the planet might disintegrate along the 'gravitational fault line'.

Obviously this Cavorite is not a practical idea. Where can I get some dilithium crystals ?

Also... as Arthur C. Clarke puts it. Cavorite, or anything that could nullify a gravitational force would allow for the creation of free energy, or put another way, a perpetual motion machine.

Naty1 said:
How does superposition relate to shielding? Now that I think about it I don't know exactly how shielding works.
Let's use the specific example of E-field shielding by a conductor. If a positive charge is positioned to the left of the origin there will be a field pointing to the right at the origin. If the origin is surrounded by a hollow conductor (the charge on the outside) then the conductor will have negative charge on the left and positive charge on the right. The configuration of charge on the conductor would result in a field pointing to the left. By superposition the two fields add and cancel each other out. This is essentially how shielding works generally with EM.

Naty1 said:
Is there positive gravitational charge? What is that??
Mass is gravitational charge. We don't know of any particles with negative mass.

Dale...Ok I get that...magnetic shielding is more obscure.

If it occurred naturally in the earth, it would jeopardize the geological integrity and the planet might disintegrate along the 'gravitational fault line'

...not really: if it were dispersed like most minerals all it would do is weaken the gravitational field of other elements.

anything that could nullify a gravitational force would allow for the creation of free energy

no: "... negative pressure and repulsive gravity overcomes the attractive gravity of mass and energy at cosmological distances..."

It's just that we don't yet know how to harness such dark energy...

Naty1 said:
Dale...Ok I get that...magnetic shielding is more obscure.
It is really pretty much the same. For example, if you have a passively shielded MRI system what that means is that you have the big magnet of the MRI and then the room surrounds it with several tons of iron. As you slowly ramp the magnet up to field the iron shielding becomes magnetized. Where the MRI field points north the iron shielding field points south. If you rapidly quench the MRI then you can see that the shielding material has an "equal and opposite" magnetic field which is how it canceled out the MRI's field.

1. Why can we shield some forces but not others?

This is a common question asked by many people who are curious about the concept of shielding forces. The answer lies in the nature of the forces themselves. Some forces, such as gravity and electromagnetism, are long-range forces that can be shielded by intervening material. Other forces, such as the strong and weak nuclear forces, are short-range forces that cannot be shielded by material objects.

2. What is the difference between long-range and short-range forces?

Long-range forces, also known as fundamental forces, act over large distances and are responsible for the interactions between objects at a macroscopic level. Examples of long-range forces include gravity and electromagnetism. Short-range forces, on the other hand, are responsible for interactions at a microscopic level and have a limited range of action. The strong and weak nuclear forces are examples of short-range forces.

3. How does shielding work for long-range forces?

Shielding for long-range forces, such as gravity and electromagnetism, works by placing a material object between the source of the force and the object being shielded. The material object acts as a barrier, reducing or blocking the force from reaching the object. This is because these forces are mediated by particles that can be absorbed or deflected by the material.

4. Why can't we shield short-range forces?

The reason why we cannot shield short-range forces, such as the strong and weak nuclear forces, is because these forces are mediated by particles that are constantly interacting with each other and cannot be blocked by material barriers. Additionally, these forces act over very short distances, making it difficult for any material object to completely block their effects.

5. Are there any exceptions to the rule of shielding forces?

While the concept of shielding forces holds true for most cases, there are some exceptions. For example, the weak nuclear force can be shielded by certain materials, such as lead, due to its short range of action. Additionally, the effects of gravitational force can be partially shielded by extremely dense objects, such as black holes. However, these exceptions are limited and do not change the overall principle of shielding forces.

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