When You Look Closely, Gravity Stops Making Sense
There’s a certain order to the world. Mice get eaten by wolves, motorcyclists get demolished by 18-wheelers and gravity presides over the whole crazy parade, keeping it stuck to the ground like a boss. Understanding where forces rank compared with one another allows us to predict and explain all the different ways in which they will interact. The problem is that gravity, the one force that’s involved in just about every interaction that happens here on Earth, is kind of all over the map.
It’s the functional alcoholic of forces.
When you look at it up close, gravity is decidedly on the mouse side of the hierarchy. Rub a balloon on your wool sweater (nice sweater, nerd) and pass it over a piece of paper. The tiny electromagnetic charge your sweater transferred to the balloon will lift the paper off the table, overcoming the Earth’s gravitational pull. That’s the same gravitational pull that tethers the moon in orbit around Earth. Up close, gravity gets its ass handed to it by a bond that’s about as strong as worn-out Velcro. But over a distance of 234,000 miles, it acts like the chain on a mace being swung around the head of a planet-sized Viking.
Gravity: It’ll smash your head in and violate your women.
This is what’s known as the Higgs mass hierarchy problem. Gravity has a tendency to wreak havoc on scientific hierarchies because the closer you look at it, the more likely it is to disappear. It’s predictable when you take a step back and watch it yank things out of midair, but on closer inspection, it completely vanishes. In fact, at the realm of particle physics, gravity is 10 ^ 32 times weaker than the second weakest force.
The Earth’s mass is 5.97 x 10 ^ 24 kilograms, which allows it to generate the supremely powerful and inescapable force that has held you on the surface of the Earth since you popped out of your mom. The fact that the stray electricity hanging out on your sweater could counteract it makes as much sense as a starving African child being able to bench-press a skyscraper.
The second she puts a hat on, the tides will be fucked.