Gravity

We often say that important people or the topics in which they trade have “Gravity” (or gravitas, if we’re pretentious Latin-spewing types), but in doing so, we give short shrift to everybody else on this good planet of ours, since we all have Gravity, pulling on the Earth in exactly the same ways that the Earth pulls on each and every one of us. We’re just small, and the Earth is large (compared to us), so we don’t notice that our steps and movements are having an effect on each and every other thing on the planet, because those effects occur below the thresholds that our senses’ meager capabilities can comprehend.

Isaac Newton figured this all out for us, with or without an apple bonk. The universal formula for calculating the gravitational attraction between any two bodies is:

Gravitational force = (G)*(m1)*(m2)/d^2

Where:

(G) = the gravitational constant (“Big G,” not to be confused with the more commonly known “little g,” or Earth’s gravity;  “little g” is 9.8 m/sec^2, while “Big G” is estimated at 6.7*10^-11 N-m^2/kg^2. That’s a big difference).

(m1) = the mass of the first object

(m2) = the mass of the second object, and

d = the distance between the two objects

The mass of the Earth is about 6.0*10^26 kilograms. The mass of an average human being is about 70 kilograms (154 pounds). The distance from the center of the Earth to sea level is about 6.4*10^6 kilometers. Doing a spot of math, one can calculate that the force the Earth and an average human being exert on each other is about 686 Newtons at sea level, with a Newton being named for Isaac, and defined as the force needed to accelerate a mass of one kilogram to one meter per second squared.

The further the average human being moves away from the center of the Earth, the weaker the gravitational attraction between the two bodies becomes. At about 1.7 billion meters apart (1,056,300 miles, about four times further away than the Moon), the attraction between the Earth and our average human drops to about one Newton.

Of course, our average human would also be influenced by the gravity of the Moon (and the exceptionally massive Sun, obviously) at that point, so the calculation of gravitational force becomes ever more complex as more bodies are introduced, but the forces being brought to bear on our hypothetical space-traveling Everyperson clearly diminish as he-she moves deeper into the voids between the large bodies that comprise our planetary system.

But in an infinite universe that holds a finite number of human beings, as small as we are, if we all set forth into Deep Space, each and every one of us could eventually find a spot where we were the dominant gravitational attractors in our field of influence. Free from the forces of stars and planets, we could float still, no longer required to rotate or revolve, and begin to accrete our own systems, comprised of the small galactic dust-bunnies that drift about the Universe, acquiring our own tiny moonlets, dusty rings and dirty ice balls as we reigned supreme in their midst, Lords and Ladies of our own gravitational spheres.

To those coagulating spicks and specks, and to the bits of amino acids and proteins that might cling to them, we would each be as mighty as a sun, the gravitational wells that hold our captive bodies in their orbits. Our de-populated Solar System could then be a neighbor (distantly) with the Steve System, the Karen System, the Suleiman System, the Kim System and the Katelin System, along with some five billion other human-centric spheres.

So, knowing that each and every one of us have some spot in the Universe in which we would reign supreme, and in which we would offer all the aggregating force that everyone and everything revolving about us required, how can we not, here on Earth, appreciate our own power and pull, content in the knowledge that we have Gravity, in both its scientific (attractive) and colloquial (importance) senses?

Gravity is not only for the powerful or the important or the puffed-up and pretentious. Gravity is for us all. We all have Gravity.

What will you attract with yours?

2 thoughts on “Gravity

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