Time and Gravity

They (scientists, who?) have wondered about time for some time and about gravity, too. I (no scientist) have wondered about those two since I was a young boy. I stopped for a while because I got bad marks in my school tests. I was told to repeat what’s in the books, as to prove, I have read them. No one was interested whether I have learned something, even less in my own thoughts and ideas.  That’s what school was all about. Proving that you read the books and repeating it on demand. Parrots.0812 19 me small high

As an adult, when I was 46, I went back to uni. Some teachers had not changed at all. Some still only wanted me to prove, I had read the books.


They (the scientists, who?), have been speculating that time in black holes slows down. That’s a pretty safe statement to make. Who could prove you wrong? At this moment, we can’t go there and check it out.

However, here is news. When they started setting up the satellite navigation system, some fifteen years ago, they put extremely accurate clocks in those satellites. They didn’t put them up there not only for your … what they are called: in-your-car-that-tell-you-where-to-go-thing?

It may come to you as a surprise: they are mainly used for surveillance during wars, spying and missile guidance and weaponry control. The personal navigation part is only a sidekick to make a bit of money.

Anyhow, what they discovered, (the people who watch the satellites up there) that those clocks go fast, only a minute millisecond, but fast. All clocks up there go fast, precisely the same amount. Identical clocks on Earth go as they are supposed to go, compared with the world standard time clock.


In 1967, my second year at university, we were (physically) introduced to gravity. Let me describe the experiment. There were two spheres (about 20 cm diameter) made of lead (50 kg) suspended from a cross member high up near the ceiling.  They had been hanging there all the time, and I had often wondered, what their purpose was.

Gravitation Filed Experiment
Gravitation Field Experiment

There was an electronic measurement system between the suspension points and another, identical system, measuring the gap between the balls.

The diagram is not to scale. I overemphasised the leaning inwards of the lines when the gravitational forces were noticeably in action.

At the start of the experiment, the distances (a) were noted and found equal. Then, by moving the suspension points, the balls were moved closer together. When the balls were about half a meter apart (at distance x), we noticed that the distance (z) between the balls reduced faster than the distance between the suspensions.

Conclusion: There must be a force acting between the two lead balls. The observations were (note: this is not a definition):

•  Two objects are pulled toward each other because of a force-field between them, there is a difference between distance x and z.

•  The closer the two objects are, the stronger the pull between them, the proportional difference between distance x and z increases.

•  The more mass an object has (Earth, Sun), the stronger its pull is, a distance x shortens to distance z.

This force-field we call gravity.  We don’t know what gravity is. These are observations, which can be predicted via mathematical equations.

Part of this formula describes that the force between the two objects increases by the inverse square of its reduced distance. Meaning: if you half the distance then the force of attraction will be four times larger.

This does also apply to systems of multiple masses.  Observation, trying to understand and the mathematical prediction becomes (much) more difficult.

It’s about time Time

Theoretically, they (you know who) had “known” about this since Albert had been around. And they had given it a name: Time dilation. When things have names, we have a sense of knowing and understanding about them. After that, we use our mind to prove ourselves that we are right. I told you so. Hardly ever, the mind proves itself wrong.

In this context, allow me to refer you to fellow thinker James Carter and his thoughts on time and gravity.  He knows more scientific words than I, however, don’t be shy and have a read.

They (the scientists, who?) say: time speeds up when there is a reduction in gravity. Most important for them is to postulate the proof of the opposite to be correct too: “When gravity increases then time slows down.” Black holes are more important than what happens on Earth.

Now, they (the scientists, who?) have not worked out a formula defining the exact correlation between gravity and time. I assume it will be some sort of asymptotic functions. Otherwise… I will come back to this later.

Some Constants are no longer Constant

What I think is much more important, is to recognise that all our physical constants that correlate with time are not constant anymore unless you add the proviso: within a constant field of gravity.

One of my longtime favourites is the speed of light, 9 460 528 405 000 km/year. When it was measured, it happened on Earth, in the Earth’s gravity field. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year (there is the time).

Unfortunately, Albert, in his magnificence, wrote his famous formula

E = m c2

It looks exquisite and rolls off the tongue quite easily. However, c is no longer a constant. You either have to measure it at the place where you want to determine the amount of energy a particular mass produces under a certain speed or, someone needs to come up with a method of calculating the speed of light.

Then Albert’s formula could look like (my idea of what it could look like)

E = m ((Ω×Ϣ»ß/p2+ (the time of the day and the local gravity)).

Lost its elegance.  But then, I am not Albert.

Let’s say it loud and clear: “The speed of light is not constant!”

Since time slows down between the stars, where there is hardly any gravity, a year is much longer than on Earth. This means, in low gravity outer space (since one year passes much slower) light travels a much larger distance; therefore, the number value is much smaller, which does not change the actual distance.

For example, the closest planet, inhabitable for human beings (HBs) is Kepler-62e, located about 1,200 ly (light year) or 370 pc (parsec) from Earth in the constellation of Lyra.

A parsec is a measurement of distance. 1 parsec = 3.0856 7758 x 1013 km, meaning about 3.1 km + 13 zeros or 31 trillions km.

Until recently, (before we knew about the clocks in the satellites) there was a conversion factor between ly and pc. It was 1 pc = 3.26 ly. You don’t need to remember this number because it has become obsolete. Like so many things in science have, but no one talks about them, snow of yesterday.

In conclusion, Kepler-62e is much fewer light years away from us. Unfortunately, this does not reduce its distance.

Time and Ageing

When, in future, we would live on space stations with less gravity, then time would pass faster.  Would this also speed up our biological clock? Would our lifespan be shorter? But if we move more quickly and do the same amount of things, would it matter?  On the other hand, would we not notice this and just live “longer” without realising?

Would an outside observer, someone living on Earth, observing those on the space station see them age faster or not, also move faster? Those out there, would they experience time still the same way (doing the same amount of things).

Don’t we say, when we achieve a lot in a particular time span, time stood still? Or time flies when one is occupied with what one is doing? Does this not tell us that we know more than we think we know?

About Space Travel

Some time in future we may endeavour in space travel. For those, left behind, the timekeepers, those, for whom our space journey is important, time on a spaceship would pass very fast. The travellers may not notice this unless they talk to those on Earth. They would behave very slow.

Several generations would pass in the ship for one generation on Earth. I guess, it would not matter to the Earth people, for them only would count, whether the mission is accomplished.

What a different spirit. You start a journey, and several generations later, the children’s children would arrive. Isn’t this the way we live on spaceship planet Earth? I hope and wish, those space travellers are more considerate of their future generations as we are.carousel top spread
Would it be different, if they would live in an artificial gravity field, one, which is created by centrifugal forces? I have not been on a fairground lately. There used to be a carousel with seats hanging off on chains.

As the carousel increases its speed of revolution, the seats would swing out. The reason is: the centrifugal forces compensate the effects of gravity. A spaceship could rotate around its central axis, and people would walk on the sidewalls, experiencing a gravity-like force. Would this experience compensate for the real thing?

Gravity, a Paradox

We have the habit, if we don’t understand something, we give it a name and let it rest in peace. It creates the illusion of knowing, understanding. We believe this to be true unless someone else tells us another convincing, plausible explanation.  After a short time of confusion, the old is forgotten and the new taken as true.

This is not only a contemporary attitude. A few hundred years ago, Archimedes discovered buoyancy. Why? Because people could not understand, why things would float on water. Without the question, even Archimedes would have not seen an answer, even it was right in front of him.

Listen to what people ask, what you ask yourself. It is much easier to find the answer when you have a question. The answer is the child of the question; it has always been there, inside the question, waiting to come out. A leading question… they all are.

buoyancy out
Boat out of Water

Back to Archimedes: Allow me to refresh your mind on buoyancy: You can see the hull of the boat? It has a certain weight (caused by the field of gravity), which is all around us and gives everything weight. It would make the boat drop into the water.

buoyancy in
Boat in Water

The boat sinks into the water until it begins to float. Why? Because there is buoyancy. It is like a force that works against the weight. The boat stops sinking and starts floating, when both forces, gravitational pull and buoyancy, are opposite and equal.

In order to face you with the paradox, I also have to introduce you to the Newtonian Continuum. Example: you sit in an aircraft, flying at a constant velocity of several hundred kilometres an hour. You don’t feel this, and none of the other passengers, nor the aircraft itself feels it.

You may as well sit in a coffee shop and talk to your neighbour… you don’t notice that the planet rotates at a circumferential speed of 1700 km/h, that it rotates around the sun at 107,000 km/h.

The solar system rotates around the centre of the Milky Way at a speed of 792,000 km/h.

The Milky Way moves shoots through space at 2,100,000 km/h. We are tossed around at tremendous speeds, in overlapping directions of travel.

This happens all at the same time while you chat with your friend. My head spins from trying to imagine this. All the above speeds are increasing ever so slowly that we don’t notice it and the coffee in your cup does not even quiver.

I guess this was an interesting sidetrack. In the context of the Newtonian Continuum, they (who?) talk about an established, balanced system of forces and velocities. Then, amongst the components inside the continuum (people, TVs and cars and so on) there are no forces acting between them. They do not experience any sense of motion.

submarine and man
Submarine with Man

Now, this is a submarine with a man inside, a Newtonian Continuum. The forces of gravity and buoyancy are equal, and the submarine stops sinking. All happens within the field of gravity.

Why does it stop at a certain depth? Good question. Only a small hint now: “The specific gravity of water increases with depth.”

According to the law of the Newtonian Continuum, all should be in balance, not forces amongst the parts inside the system.

Put the man on a scale, and you find, he weighs the same as on land. Why does the NC law not apply? Take the man outside, he goes diving, and, using a weight belt, he floats.

Does the force field of gravitation not go through everything? Yes, it does. The gravity force field passes through the walls of the submarine, but the force of buoyancy does not, it only acts on the individual item. If you would stand on a scale in an aircraft, you will not be one iota lighter.

I guess we can clearly conclude: The force of buoyancy and the “force” of gravity are of different nature. We, they (who?) call it “force” because we, as well as they (who?), don’t know any better. Gravity is still unknown territory; then the rule is: Keep it simple, don’t rock the apple cart and no one will question.

What is heavier?

What is heavier? A kilo of feathers or a kilo of iron? When you put it on a scale, they weigh the same. “When it drops on your foot, you will feel the difference,” some people say. So true.

What we feel is the impact, caused by the speed when the object gets abruptly stopped in its travel, by your foot. At uni, we did this experiment: “What falls faster, ten grammes of feathers or ten grammes of iron?” We put them in individual over one meter long, vertical glass tubes and measured their speed when the pieces of material dropped.

And surely, as expected, the fluff of feathers took much longer to travel the distance. Then, we evacuated (sucked the air out of) the tubes and repeated the experiment. Both items fell at the same speed.

I could lure you on an interesting sidetrack. Does gravity need matter (air) in order to exert its force onto matter? The further go out into space, the less air is there, and the more weightless things become. The correlation is evident but is false. The matter of stuff has nothing to do with the way gravity is transmitted. What did I say? We, even they (who?) don’t know how gravity works.

The Illusion of Gravity

Have you heard about the way they train astronauts how to move in zero gravity environment? They put the astronauts in a large aircraft, which goes up high in the air. Then the aircraft descends at a speed equal to the speed a human being would drop in free fall. A Newtonian Continuum is produced.

inverse gravity
Inverse “Gravity?”

Within the fuselage, the astronauts appear to be weightless. Like skydivers in a group, they don’t move relative to each other.

If the speed of the vessel reduces, the weight of the astronauts increases, if the vessel goes faster, then gravity appears to inverse. The difference in velocity causes this. Like a fly flying along at one velocity and a car comes along with higher velocity … poor fly.

Back to Gravity and Time

We don’t know much about either, even our daily life is under its constant influence. Why don’t we find out more about it? Have they (the scientist, who?) tried and put them into the too hard basket? Nothing is stopping us from trying as long as we like. So often, believing to know stands in the way of understanding.

Let’s re-establish what we (not they) discovered: When gravity reduces, time speeds up. The reverse may not be true; even it is a possible and logical assumption. From trying to make sense of black holes, they (the scientist, who?) somehow derived that when gravity increases, time slows down.

simple curve 150308Question: When gravity goes to almost zero, and there is an inverse relationship with time (which we have established, there is), then time should speed up to almost infinite. Does it?

I somehow feel that the relationship is not proportional (linear) but rather somehow an asymptotic curve. It moves towards the two axes, gravity and time, but never reaches it.

Where the two axes cross, time and gravity are zero. At a Black Hole, gravity is high and time slow. In Space, gravity is low and time goes fast. Conditions on Earth are somewhere in between.

And somewhere out there in the infinity of space gravity could zero out towards the time axis and time could zero out towards the gravity axis. The curve gradually approaches the asymptotically the two axes but never reaches them. May this as it is, however, I would rather not be there. And vice versa, I would reckon.

Is it all Experience?

The question that came up for me is: What causes the changes of speed of time? Is it the strength at which we experience gravity? Or is it the variation of the strength of gravity itself?

Let me explain. Even when the strength of gravity has not altered, I can experience gravity to various degrees, when other forces are acting on me at the same time.

Buoyancy, for example. In this case, the experience of gravity it is reduced or compensated (on a physical level) by the upward directed force of buoyancy. The question is: Is the reduced experience of gravity enough to change the speed of time?

In the above example, the strength of the gravity field has not altered. For speed of time to change, is it necessary for the field of gravity to adjust? Like it is the case when one moves away from a planet?

I have not found any conclusive answers to this question.


Let’s assume it is the experience of gravity, which determines the speed of time.  Only we can toss around a few practical ideas.

A baby in the womb is kept in floating. As a foetus, it dangles on the umbilical cord floating in the fluid inside the womb. It does not experience gravity. Is this the reason why we grow there at a higher speed than any time later? Time passes slower in there; therefore the baby can do more, grow more, faster.

It would hear the mother’s heartbeat, but much slower and deeper in sound.  Somehow, the recorded the sounds from outside the mother’s body the way the baby would hear it. All the voices were slow and low, like when you play a piece of music at the wrong, lower speed.

The result was accepted, everyone was happy, what an achievement (scientists). Obviously, those people (who?) did not know much about the penetration of sound. The low frequencies get absorbed by the separating material, the high frequencies go through.

How is this contradiction possible? And why did no one realise it?  At very low gravity, the speed of time is higher than outside; therefore, the high-frequency signals that penetrated are heard inside at a lower frequency.

If one could alter the specific gravity of the fluid, with the consequence of the baby experiencing gravity, would it grow slower? Would pregnancy take longer? The idea is similar to the one with people on a spaceship. They live in a different gravity field.

Do larger beings experience gravity more than smaller ones? For sure, when a toddler falls it is no problem, if it cries, it is out of surprise, shock or frustration. When an adult falls, the impact is 7.5 times higher. That hurts. In comparison with the toddler, an adult has to exert 5 to 8 times more energy, just for walking. (I have calculated these figures in an article about the size we have.  I have not published it, yet.)

An elephant definitely experiences gravity more (with the consequence, the time he lives in runs slower). Is this the reason why he lives to an age much older than we do? Or going even further down: some flies live only for one day. They would hardly experience gravity; their time would fly very fast.

An elephant could only reduce his experience of low gravity, when he flies, not in an aeroplane but under his own power. Flapping ears?

Scientists have proven that the flying technique insects apply is technically impossible. I have seen them fly. Their wings flutter so fast, one can hardly see them.

If we entered into their time continuum, the wings would not move that fast at all. No one would doubt their flying technique.

Knowledge, Consciousness, Awareness of Gravity

This sounds all very plausible. Would this suggest, could I suggest, there is an experiential, metaphysical component of gravity, in addition to the merely physical, mechanical? The physical we can measure, often we believe this is all there is.

Also, we believe, we can artificially create it. How about the metaphysical component? As we have seen, gravity penetrates everything, forces act on the outside, only.


Allow me to add another thought. In how far does knowledge of gravity affect the experience? If I had never experienced gravity, I could only wonder why apples fall off trees, and I could call this the effect: gravity.

If I would not observe, I would not know of its existence. Along the lines of the koan: “If a tree in the forest falls and no one saw or heard it, has it actually fallen?”

We know of gravity because we experience it. Still, we don’t know what it is. When I know of gravity, I expect it to be there, even it would not exist.

Millions of years ago, did people know of gravity? Then, we were so busy trying to survive, we had no knowledge of it. We were not aware of it, even it affected us. No awareness, no experience. No experience… we said it before, then time could slow down. Did we live longer, then?


Wolfgang Köhler
06 March 2015

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