This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/deborah-haarsma-the-presidents-notebook/defending-and-discovering-the-creator-god
Thanks for this testimony!
I liked the idea for the “drop-day” contest. Did anyone think of bringing in a helium-filled balloon for the slowest drop? I wonder what they would have done with that? I guess you could claim that you are technically dropping air by allowing the balloon to rise. But that too is skirting the intent of the lesson I suppose, adding buoyancy into a discussion of gravity. Still, it could result in a discussion of vectors and magnitudes – the difference between speed and velocity.
Please help me out, but I do not think that light “drops,” because light does not have mass. Light is bent by gravity, because gravity bends space, not because it effects light.
One very interesting question that needs to be addressed is whether quantum physics applies to non-quantum particles, which would mean the universe is indeterminate. Some scientists seem to say yes, ,but it appears to me that the answer is clearly no.
good memories of my daughter having a drop day where the object was to drop an egg off the football stadium and have it not break, limiting the size of the device to 1 cubic foot.
I think that curvature of space is supposed to seamlessly explain all gravitational phenomenon – not just the bending of paths of massless things like photons. I.e. if a mass was zinged by the earth at 99.99% the speed of light, its path would bend due to earth’s gravity pretty much just like a light beam that was given the same initial trajectory. (And it wouldn’t be much bent since that is so fast, and earth’s gravity fairly insignificant for such a circumstance).
Scientists can’t even explain quantum physics, much less the quasi-philosophical questions of ultimate determinism or indeterminism that go even deeper. So it would be laughable that some final answer on any of these matters could be clearly seen by us. Taken as a faith principle would be more accurate.
It is only natural that anyone with a solid background in the sciences (e.g. you and Relates) will first check the accuracy of the statements made by others. That’s OK, and we all enjoy being updated in our understanding. But I hope that neither of you missed the real point of Anna Kover’s excellent blog: It is a most effective testimonial of a youngster, growing up in a Christian environment, and possessing a God-given curiosity to learn as much as possible about God’s universe, then overcoming the hubris of the first taste of science classes in middle school to become truly humble as she acquired the top level knowledge evidenced by a PhD in atomic physics. To me, at least, this is truly Faith seeking Understanding at its finest. I have the crazy notion that some of our most famous scientists (e.g. Einstein, Hawkings) are actually too humble to believe in a Christian God of Love who is also Creator of all they study. Of course, there are many others (who shall remain nameless) who are stuffed full of self-importance.
I did hear and very much appreciate her (and your) point. I do not want any knit-picking of my own to subtract from it. Thanks for the reminder!
What is the difference between “dropping because of mass” and “trajectory bent by gravity” (i.e., the distortion of spacetime)?
I was referring to Drop Day. She said that her project was to “drop” light down the stairwell and maybe she should have “dropped” it with a beam parallel to the earth. I would expect that a beam of light parallel to the earth’s surface would be bent by gravity around the surface of the earth, but would not descend to the surface, because it has no mass, while a particle with mass would eventually strike the earth or drop, because it has mass.
I understand that this is all theoretical, but the ideas behind this project is to get people thinking outside the box, so why not follow it through to its logical conclusion so we learn something.
What a great way to start the morning! Devotions and a bit of physics! (which as Dr. Korver has demonstrated, can be part of the same activity!)
This is part of Newton’s brilliance (and then later Einstein --that it would apply to space-time, and thus even things like light). But Newton already anticipates and answers your question. There is no difference between dropping something so that it may happen to strike any object (like the earth) that incidentally gets in its way; and moving sideways as it drops – even moving so fast that maybe it never reaches the surface at all (like moons, satellites, or anything in orbit). It’s the same gravity that “bends” all their trajectories. They are all dropping. Some just never hit because they are going sideways so fast that they never approach close enough to their center of attraction to strike it. We call that an orbit (if it isn’t going so fast that it speeds away never to return). That this same thing [gravity] both makes objects drop whether they be planets toward the sun, moons toward planets, or anything else towards … anything else!; --that was the radical brilliance of Newton (hence the moniker ‘universal gravitation’). All mass attracts all mass the same way!
Then Einstein comes along and says it is actually space-time itself being curved by the presence of any mass. So even massless things like speeding photons will follow that “bend” of space just as we would expect any flying masses of comparable velocity to do under the older Newtonian understandings. So it doesn’t matter which way she pointed the light. Those photons were indeed ‘dropping’ in the sense that they experienced the same gravitational acceleration that any mass does. They were just going so fast that said acceleration doesn’t make easily noticeable change in that huge velocity. Imagine a bullet speeding from a gun. It’s going fast enough that any small portion of its path would look pretty straight. But it is dropping just like everything else once it leaves the barrel, and as anyone would easily observe when considering its whole trajectory. And light is going literally nearly a million times faster than a typical speeding bullet!
Perhaps Dr. Korver or @Casper_Hesp can tweak or clean up anything I wrote here if it needs correction.