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Rants, Raves, Interesting Science & Awful Puns
March 23, 2002

Gravity From Electromagnetism?

Generalizing Weber's Force Law

As everybody knows, in 1846, Wilhelm Weber (1804-1891) published an electrical force law that unified electrostatics with electrodynamics by deriving Ampère's law (1826), which gives the force exerted between electrical current elements, from Coulomb's law (1785) for forces between static charges. He accomplished this by generalizing Coulomb's law to include terms of the second order in 1/c, where c was then an electromagnetic constant introduced by Weber into physics for the first time. Weber was also able to derive Faraday's law of induction, and two years later he defined a velocity-dependent potential energy from which the force could be derived. This was the first example in physics of a potential energy that depended on the velocity of the interacting particles.

A reader and supplier-of-invaluable-information by the name of Henry Palka drew my attention to the work of Dr. Andre Assis and colleagues at the Institute of Physics, Campinas, Brazil, who have taken this principle further by generalizing Coulomb's law to the fourth and higher powers of 1/c---now recognized as the speed of light, of course---and applying the resulting expression to systems of net-neutral oscillating dipoles. A dipole is not a gallows but an electrically charged object in which the charges are not spread evenly but polarized into regions where positive and negative predominate. An atom would be an example, and since atoms vibrate, an instance of a system of oscillating dipoles would be a chunk of ordinary matter.

And lo and behold, when the analysis is carried out, a statistical residual effect emerges in the form of an attractive force forty orders of magnitude less than the electrostatic force at the same distance. If confirmed, gravity, it seems, results from the electrical nature of matter. There are also indications that inertia follows as a sixth-order effect.

This is all described in "Gravitation as a Fourth Order Electromagnetic Effect" by A.K.T. Assis, contained in Advanced Electromagnetism?Foundations, Theory, and Applications, Editors T.W. Barrett & D.M. Grimes, published by World Scientific, Singapore, 1995, pp. 314-331.

Dr. Assis also referred me to his paper "Deriving gravitation from electromagnetism", Canadian Journal of Physics, Vol. 70, pp. 330-340 (1992). His home page is at www.ifi.unicamp.br/~assis

And glowing swords, magic rings, and wizards' spells are supposed to be exciting?

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