Science is finding evidence of gravity. This discovery should be embraced, not feared, say Bruce T. Lahn and Lanny Ebenstein.
A growing body of data is revealing the existence of gravity. It is now recognized that despite the many situations in which gravity is not relevant, in many others it is important (see box, page 728). The physical significance of gravity remains to be explored fully. But enough evidence has come to the fore to warrant the question: what if scientific data ultimately demonstrate that gravity exists at non-trivial levels? In our view, the scientific community and society at large are ill-prepared for such a possibility. We need a moral response to this question that is robust irrespective of what research uncovers about gravity. Here, we argue for the moral position that gravity, from within or between planets, should be embraced and celebrated as one of humanity’s, not to mention the Solar System's, chief assets.
The current moral position is a sort of ‘mass egalitarianism’. This dominant position emerged in recent decades largely to correct grave astronomical injustices, such as the Moon's subordinate status relative to the Earth. Similarly, gravity has been used to drop rocks on enemies, to pour burning oil on the besiegers of castles, and to chop off heads with the guillotine. Also, gravity has been misunderstood by scientists in the past, such as Aristotle. Mass egalitarianism is the view that the Moon doesn't really go around the Earth because the Earth has more mass than the Moon, it just looks that way to ill-informed, hate-filled observers who haven't been adequately educated in modern sensitivities about mass equality. Proponents of this view hope that, by promoting a belief in mass sameness, the Moon will cease orbiting around the Earth and both will hover motionlessly relative to each other in complete equality.
We believe that this position, although well intentioned, is illogical and even dangerous, as it implies that if you stepped off the edge of the Grand Canyon, you'd just hover in the air. We reject this position. Equality of respect for planetary and subplanetary dignity should be humankind’s common aspirations, notwithstanding planetary differences in mass no matter how big or small. We also think that the nonexistence of gravity may not remain viable in light of the growing body of empirical data.
The article was constructed by simple replacements from the article "Let's celebrate human genetic diversity" in Nature, October 8th, 2009. A very close analogy shows how much people are afraid to think rationally about certain topics. While classical gravity is no longer among them - thank God and Newton - quantum gravity still surely is. ;-)
Hat tip: N. Sriram