Eccentric but brilliant physicist claims gravity doesn't exist

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

I know that something is keeping me from floating off as I type away at this keyboard, but thanks to Erik Verlinde, a string theorist and professor of physics at the University of Amsterdam, I no longer know what. But I'm not the only one feeling a little, well, adrift right now.

According to an article in the NY Times, "Some of the best physicists in the world say they don't understand Dr. Verlinde's paper." Which makes us feel a little better that we don't either.

That paper, "On the Origin of Gravity and the Laws of Newton," claims that gravity is an illusion.

"For me gravity doesn't exist," said Dr. Verlinde, who believes that the force is merely a consequence of the laws of thermodynamics.

As the NY Times explains it:

Think of the universe as a box of scrabble letters. There is only one way to have the letters arranged to spell out the Gettysburg Address, but an astronomical number of ways to have them spell nonsense. Shake the box and it will tend toward nonsense, disorder will increase and information will be lost as the letters shuffle toward their most probable configurations. Could this be gravity?

Does that make everything clearer for you? If it does—will you please explain it to us?