Gravitation And The Apple
From Earth Not a Globe Review, January 1895
By “ Zetetes”
A correspondent, interested in Zetetic Truth, asks me for “ Something on Gravitation.” I propose, therefore, to give a few of my thoughts thereon in the Earth Review, as others besides my missionary friend may be interested in reading something on this subject.
But a difficulty meets one at the outset. How am I to write “ something” about nothing? I cannot create, as some erroneously suppose the world was made, out of nothing. Paul says the things which are seen were not made out of “ phenomena,” or things which do appear ; but he nowhere teaches that they came out of absolutely nothing, except invisibility. Now, “ Gravitation ” has been created, not only out of invisibility, but out of nothing, except the vain imaginations of astronomical minds. I t was not “ discovered,” but invented; and I shall proceed to prove that there is no such thing as the “ attraction of Gravitation ” in God’s universe, and that the phenomena supposed to countenance the theory are capable of other and more natural interpretations.
Of course, I speak of “ Gravitation ” in the astronomical sense of a universal power in all bodies, celestial and terrestrial, to attract, or pull one another together, with forces directly in proportion to their masses, and inversely as the squares of their distances. So that terrestrial attraction and phenomena will be seen to be only a small part of this question of Universal Gravitation. The former we may explain by weight and currents ; but the latter we utterly deny. Let us try, in the first place, to realize what is meant by, and implied in the astronomical theory of gravitation, and its attraction.
According to this idea, every body in the universe, however large or small, has the power, by some means or other, to attract, or pull towards itself, every other body in the universe, however near or distant. Yea, not only is every body supposed to have this power, but the power is said to be in actual operation every moment of time for ever. So that, if I hold an apple in my hand, it is connected with, and pulling at all the apples in the world ; all the pears and plums, all the trees, gardens, walls, houses, all the stones, rocks, rivers, and mountains; yea, and every separate drop of water in the ocean, and every grain of sand on the sea shore. A n d these are a ll pulling at the apple. Yet it remains passively on my hand, while I study gravitation, or decide whether I will eat the apple now, or leave it for further experimentation.
This apple ought to dance about, or at least to show some symptoms of the awful internal struggles going on within it. Perhaps it has learned the art of appearing passive, an art which some astronomers seem to acquire, and to keep a quiet and serene countenance, while internally tortured with ten thousand doubts and pangs. Ten thousand ! Yea, ten thousand times ten thousand gravitating cords or strings are pulling at it ! For we must remember that sun, moon and stars, and supposed millions of millions of “ other worlds than ours ” are each and all interested in that apple; and they send out their innumerable long and filamentous fingers to clutch it out of my open hand. Ye t it remains outwardly unmoved in serene and blushing passivity. I shall have to eat it, threads and all, with whatever tentacles, or other attractive matter may be attached to it! What a peril! But there is such an attractive force, either in the apple, or in the natural taste God has given us for common fruit, as well, as for common sense, that I take all risks and disappoint the sun and stars. I am glad that Newton was led to muse over an apple falling to the ground by its own weight, when the stalk was rotten. He would have mused more had it “ fallen ” upwards.
But we, dear reader, can also muse over apples. While so musing, I wonder why my apple makes no tremulous motion towards the moon, which is rising as I write, especially as she is now between the two “ponderous and superior” planets. Mars and Jupiter, which are approaching towards conjunction. Ye t through the varying positions and relationships of the heavenly bodies, as they roll around the world and my apple, it remained on the shelf twenty-four hours perfectly stationary, as though no such tremendous forces were playing their mighty artillery upon it. They may try from their various vantage grounds, east or west, north or south, mid-heaven or sideways, yet the apple will not move.
Yet a breath would have caused it to roll. There is no proof for Zetetics of universal attraction in this apple. But perhaps mine is different from Newton’s. It will not bow to fair Luna as she pulls it sideways, assisted by the two powerful giants, one on each side, attending her like guards, much less will it attempt to rise towards the mighty sun as he pulls with all his meridian power and glory. Its weight is the same throughout the twenty-four hours. No ! friends. I must see an apple fall upwards before I believe in solar gravitation.
But a superficial thinker may object that the reason bodies only fall downwards to the earth is, because the earth being nearer than the sun, its force of attraction is the greater of the two. Is it? Let us take another instance, which proves, not only that there is no such thing as terrestrial gravitation, or attraction, but which shows that this supposed power may be defied.