Questions
by Ryszard Cichy

It is generally accepted that the space surrounding us is empty and only in some places are material objects present.

It is enough to look up and far, far above the clouds are stars and “empty” space between them.

It is as mysterious and elusive as time. We cannot touch it, stop it or pick up a fistful like sand. We will never manage to measure “the same” space because measuring it we are always in a state of movement. With the Earth and the galaxy we are constantly turning at great speed in space. We are forever in a different expanse of it. On the other hand in the objects located in space chemical and physical changes take place which our senses are incapable of registering. None of us, after all, can perceive the movement taking place around the nuclei of atoms which make up the objects wherein we dwell and which we call “places”. Every place (part of space) is, with every moment, a little different although to us it seems the same. We perceive change after years. A once beautiful building “has become” a ruin, a meadow has become a forest, a bed has collapsed, walls in the house faded.

We change, too. Over twenty-four hours, an enormous number of the cells of which we are made, die and are replaced by new ones.

If an old man visits places to which he had been in his youth, it is as if two different people were visiting two different places.

Seemingly, they are the same person and the same place.

Space seems obvious and familiar. I stretch my arm out in front of me, move it to the left and to the right, lower it and raise it – this is space! If we were to define it, great difficulties would arise.

An expanse of space devoid of matter, we call a vacuum.

What is a vacuum?

The simplest answer is, nothing.

Where there is a vacuum, there is nothing. Of course, it is true that where there is a vacuum there are no material objects. But the question remains unresolved - what is this vacuum?

What is this “emptiness”?

It certainly is not nothingness and certainly has to be “something” since we can dwell in this “something”. A space measuring 2m x 2m x 2m allows anyone to move about comfortably inside such a cube. Since we can walk “there”, it cannot be nothingness.

In nothingness, there could be no movement.

Nothingness does not exist in nature (in the Universe). It is only we who have invented such a concept. We have thought up numbers and among those numbers is zero. Zero means there is nothing. This number, so I believe, is a gross simplification. It brings to mind a story. An acquaintance described how as a teacher at a school for adults, despite many attempts she could not explain to one of her students what appeared to be a simple equation – what is two minus two? She kept on getting the answer two. She tried to explain this equation with the example of apples. You have two apples; if I take them away from you how many are there? The answer was: two. I don’t think the student was as dim as her teacher believed. If two apples were taken away from the student then these apples still existed except that they belonged to the person who had taken them. The teacher would probably have received the correct answer if she had been more precise and asked: if you have two apples and I take two away from you then how many do you have left? She would have got the answer: I haven’t got any, but two are left.

In the Universe everything is something. Even if we were to destroy the apples we would have fruit juice instead or at least some atoms which had gone to make up the apple would be left. The number zero describes only ownership, the number of things in an agreed aggregation.

When we open an encyclopaedia we come across a huge amount of information. Text books swarm with mathematical formulae.

All of them relate to matter.

We have not yet managed to examine space although it is omnipresent. I suppose nobody knows how to “go about” the task.

I will only remind the reader that scholars claim 99.4% of expanse in the Universe is “empty” space and only the rest is matter (one atom for every cubic metre of space). As much as 99.9% of matter is hydrogen and helium and the rest other atoms. Space, therefore, makes up the essence of the Universe while matter accounts for barely a fraction of its measure. Living beings, in turn, constitute a small part of matter.

Why is space so vast?

What is its size for?

Is the size of it accidental or is it, perhaps, precisely “fitted”? “Fitted” to what?

Does a given amount of matter have to correspond to a given amount of space or does the size of space have nothing to do with the amount of matter?

In the past, it was claimed that space is infinite. Today the prevailing theory is that it is finite since it originated from an expanding “point” with the Big Bang.

The concept of infinity has also been invented by man. To every number one more, after all, can be added.

But can aggregations be increased infinitely? In theory yes, but in practice there is a limit. In order to expand an aggregation of objects energy needs to be used and its reserves surely are limited? If I have 100 sticks then the 101 stick has to be whittled – and for this energy is needed. Using numbers I am, in fact, using symbols and not the actual objects. To add is to imagine a certain state in which real objects can be found. It is day-dreaming. And one can day-dream infinitely and imagine anything. But even working with numbers (objects which do not actually exist) energy has to be used and, therefore, in this sense too, the quantity of numbers which we can call up on a calculator is limited.

We surely have no doubt, at present, that all the objects which surround us on Earth are finite and that the number of elements which make up the Earth is also finite and can be counted, at a given moment, of course. We only lack the tools to detect and count every atom.

However, when we look at the sky and cannot see an end to it, the question arises: but perhaps “infinity” exists?

And can space be finite yet simultaneously infinite?

We can naively compare the Universe to the sphere which is Earth. Since surface and circumference are finite, and simultaneously infinite for somebody travelling along its circumference, then maybe the same applies to space?

Let us imagine the Universe as the insides of a sphere. Its infinity could lie in the fact that the force of repulsion directed towards the interior of the sphere would not let the traveller leave it. Wanting to go out, he would be repelled from the internal surface of the sphere, constantly turning to the side. He would behave like a nail which we are trying to push towards a repelling magnet. In this sense he would be moving within an apparently infinite but simultaneously finite object. Just like an ant trapped inside a balloon walking around along its internal wall.

When we ask whether space is finite we are thinking only about its external boundaries.

And what about its internal direction, its “insides”?

Such a question may sound senseless.

We are all acquainted with the notion of a point. A point is a certain concept, a symbol. I remember at school, marking a point in my exercise book with a pencil. A point drawn like this has a size although we perceive it as merely a dot. Of course there is no way we can mark a point in space. There has to be a material object on which we can draw this point or mark it in some other way. If, however, we were to place a point in space merely in our imagination, it would be a tiny part (spherule) of this space.

What would happen if we were to make this spherule (point) in space smaller from all directions equally, moving towards its “interior”? After all, such an idealised point cannot be made infinitely smaller; we would, in the end, surely reach a limit beyond which it would be impossible to make the expanse of space any smaller.

Does space have internal limits?

Is space finite “from within”?

If such “internal” boundaries existed, we ought to ask: what lies beyond them?

What would be on their “other” side?

I look at a piece of paper. It is covered in letters which make up words which, in turn, make up sentences. It is full of content. All this is on one side of the paper – the side I’m reading. I know nothing of what is on the reverse – on the other side of the paper. Are there also sentences full of content there? Or perhaps drawings? Or maybe it is blank?

And are there expanses in the Universe which are devoid of space?

Let us imagine one of those blow-up life-rings which we give children to help them swim, and us as little beings the size of an ant, imprisoned inside. If you and I were to stand opposite each other and you turned on a torch, I wouldn’t see either you or the torch’s light because we would be separated by the “hole” which goes around a child’s waist enabling it to swim.

If, on top of that, we imagined the air inside the life-ring to be space then your image and the light of your torch ought to reach me because the expanse devoid of space, which would be this “hole”, would not be perceptible.

I would see your right side if I looked to my left and your left side if I looked to my right.

If space can be bent like this then looking at the sky we ought to see the same star as two shining stars. If it wasn’t exactly opposite us we ought to see two stars in different time since the light emanating from it would be covering two different distances going round the “hole” devoid of space.

Are there really as many stars and galaxies in the sky as we see?

Are we not looking at the same things from several sides simultaneously?

We can complicate this by joining two life-rings together to form “a cross”. “Inserting” more and more life-belts we would create an object which would become a sphere. The original hole in the life-belt which goes around a child’s waist would also become a sphere, only smaller, around which space would curve.

Physicists claim that alongside matter there is anti-matter.

If the Universe is made up of matter and anti-matter then does “anti-space” exist, the opposite of what we know as space?

Can “anti-space”, an object of negative volume exist?

The World we inhabit is based on equilibrium. If we dig a hole in the shape of a cone in our garden then a cone of excavated sand, a reverse of our hole, will pile up next to it. There will be two cones – one full of sand, the other devoid of sand. Why should anti-space not exist?

Of course, it is difficult to imagine it.

What would it be? What qualities would it possess?

The basic quality of space as we know it is capacity. Simplifying somewhat, one can, therefore, say that space as we know it is, in its entirety, convex.

Is the reverse of convex space, that is, concave space, possible?

The shape of every object (a human being, planet) is defined, as we know, by its dimensions (length, height and depth) since the space in which we move is precisely three-dimensional. Scientists do not exclude the existence of other, additional dimensions and suggest that space might contain more than three dimensions. Perhaps multi-dimensional space like this exists.

If there are doubts as to whether space can have more dimensions than three, there are probably no doubts as to the fact that it cannot have less.

A lack of any one of the three dimensions would be the same as there being no space and would make the existence of any material object whatsoever impossible.

Two-dimensional, flat space is sometimes mentioned, using the school blackboard as an example. I think this is a simplification. The blackboard may be flat but every mark on it is never quite flat – it always has a thickness which is greater than “0”, and is, therefore, three-dimensional. For any mark whatsoever to be made, it has to become convex. If it wasn’t, it would not exist. It is the same with a computer screen. If a screen was not of a given thickness, it would not exist and it would not be possible to display any information whatsoever. A two-dimensional World is merely a concept which cannot be realised.

The blackboard, in fact, serves us to create a certain abstract fiction, to invent the illusion of a “two-dimensional” world which does not really exist. This tool allows us to simplify certain concepts by reducing them to fewer dimensions. This, in turn, helps our minds to understand them.

A blackboard is only a bit of matter located in three-dimensional depths.

A third dimension allows us to obtain capacity and increase it. Let us take a flat box with a depth of 1 cm, say, a book. Not much will fit inside. If, however, we increase its depth to 2 cm (we add another book), twice as many things will fit.

An identical effect (that is, increasing the number of objects in space) is caused by time. Thanks to it a far greater number of objects can be put into the Universe than there could be in one go. At present, there are about 6 billion people on Earth but over centuries, about 12 billion must have lived here. If we add those who will probably live in the future, the total number of people living of Earth can be enormous. They could not all live together simultaneously, be it because of a lack of food.

Space and time, therefore, enlarge, as it were, the “capacity” of the Universe. In that sense, time also becomes another dimension which enlarges the “capacity” of space.

Do other phenomena exist which increase the “capacity” of space, like time?

Every object known to us takes on a shape (form).

If space is finite then what is its shape?

Is it symmetrical?

The most perfect form known to us is a sphere. The distance from its centre to its edge is always the same. A flattened sphere (disc) has a smaller capacity and the distance from its centre to its edges differs. Both forms are symmetrical but not on every plane. Wherever we would like to cut a sphere in half we will always obtain two equal halves. Planets and stars are, in principle, symmetrical. Inanimate objects on the whole are not. Stones, for example, have completely irregular shapes. It is different with living beings; they are, on the whole, built symmetrically although not on every plane. An earthworm is symmetrical on a greater number of planes than man. It can, after all, be cut in half as well as lengthwise and in both cases we will obtain practically identical halves. The form given to man is symmetrical on only one plane. Only when “cutting” him from top to bottom do we obtain two identical halves. When we, human beings, create everyday objects, we – probably subconsciously – give them a symmetrical shape because it is practical. Cars, forks, televisions, chairs and tablecloths are shaped symmetrically. We avoid forms which lack symmetry, such as ponds, lakes and stones.

We can imagine living beings lacking in symmetry; for example, a human being with three arms or ears protruding from various places. One ear growing on their leg, another on their arm. Such a creature would probably be able to function but its structure would have to be very complicated in order to synchronise the functioning of these randomly located organs. Symmetry is a simplification in structure which makes it easier to achieve goals.

Have living organisms, which as a result of evolution have “chosen” symmetrical forms, in some way adapted their structure to the qualities of the space they inhabit?

The emergence of a symmetrical living being growing only from one cell dividing, is a complicated task. How does it happen that the eyes and ears on both sides of the head are on the same level and have the same shape? Construction workers building a tunnel under a mountain often start work at both ends and, thanks to precise measurements, manage to meet half way without missing each other. The construction of a symmetrical living being is the reverse of this process. It is as if one were to begin building a tunnel from the middle, digging it in two opposite directions so as to hit right on the place of entry marked out earlier. It turns out that Nature has thought up such a way of constructing. Apparently, when in its mother’s womb, a child’s eyes do not arise at two various points in the head but emerge at one point and, roughly formed, “wander” off to their places.

We are accustomed to the fact that everything around us has a shape and, therefore, edges. But we cannot exclude the fact that space (and the entire Universe) might not have any shape or edge whatsoever, that it has no end since its boundaries “blur” as they pass into a different state.

Can space have no shape whatsoever?

Can it have no external boundary just as the present has none as it passes into the past?

We could examine the Universe, however, not in the category of shape (form) but rather as a kind of field. One like a magnetic field. A field which grows weaker and finally disappears. The edge (boundary) of the Universe is the expanse (or state) in which movement gradually comes to a standstill, energy disappears. Time dies away. And matter disappears, too.

In a situation like this, a question about the shape of the Universe would be superfluous. The shape would be infinite while being finite. But without boundaries.

We possess senses which allow us to perceive only some elements of the World. We can observe only an extract, barely a fragment.

To talk about an additional sense which would enable us to perceive that which we do not perceive may seem odd.

But there are beings more limited than we are. Plants do not see or hear. Some animals living underground are blind. Why haven’t we been equipped with an additional sense allowing us to perceive the structure of space if it has one?

Space is imperceptible to us just like a pane of glass is “imperceptible” to rays of light which go through it. Dwelling in space we “go through” it while knowing nothing about it.

Can it be excluded that, in apparently empty space, another reality exists which is inaccessible to us, beings made of matter?

We are told it is difficult for scientists to “catch hold of” (register) a neutron. An enormous quantity of neutrons “fly through” Earth and through us, without “noticing” the life taking place here – plants, human beings and animals. What form do these groups of particles take? Speeding on, are they located in space more or less evenly, like the drops of rain which fall to Earth, or maybe they form some sort of structures? A sphere or many spheres making up some sort of configuration?

I would like to return to the earlier question - how long is the moment we call the present?

Is there a limit beyond which fractions of a second cannot infinitely be made smaller in order to establish the smallest “portion” of the present?

If a limit did exist it would mean that present moments do not succeed each other continuously but change in leaps, “jumping” from one into another. A mechanical clock where the hands jump abruptly from second to second, from one number to the next, would, therefore, tally with the way time runs. An electric clock which displays numbers also represents this discontinuity. Between 15.02 and 15.03 there is no continuity.

If we were to take it that time is movement, then moving from one moment to the next would be the same as objects leaping (and not moving continuously) from place to place. Since objects move at varying speeds, every instant one moment moves into another some objects would move one “place” while others (moving faster) moved, for example, two “places”. Only our senses – if this were the case – would not be able to observe this.

The arm we lift or the leg which we move forwards would, in fact, be “jumping” in space from one point to another. Our sight would not register this just as an audience in the cinema is not able to grasp every individual frame (still) of a film which, projected quickly one after another, give the illusion of continuous, uninterrupted movement.

Does not each of us and every material object disappear and reappear anew, being a changed repetition of what was before (in a new location in space)?

If every movement of an object in space took place in leaps and bounds would this be because space has no continuity?

Is space discontinuous?

Would space be something like a “three-dimensional” computer screen?

Of course, when we look at an image on an ordinary “flat” computer screen, we have the impression that is it completely continuous, whereas in actual fact this is an illusion. The screen is made up of points which do not move. The impression of movement is created only by changes in the points’ brightness.

Could we be inhabiting such a “three-dimensional” screen?

But is it possible that the orange I’m pushing and which is slowly rolling down the table, is not moving at all but disappearing (annihilating itself) at every moment, and re-emerging anew the next except in a different fragment of space? Is it possible that this disappearing and re-emerging is taking place millions of times during its journey rolling across a span of a few centimetres?

Such a supposition seems absurd.

Is space one expanse devoid of structure? Or, rather, is it made of smaller elements?

Asking about the structure of space I am not asking about what it is f i l l e d with. Scientists have long proved that it does not have a medium, a hypothetical ether. I am asking - what is it? what is it made up of? Apparently, it could be “quantum foam”.

We are convinced that photons move around in space.

What is photon?

Are they really travelling around?

I have not had the chance to meet any physicist but reading about light (photons) from distance stars reaching the Earth, I have always wanted to ask:

Is the photon bringing the image of a distant star which we register here on Earth really the same photon the star has emitted?

Do photons really move?

Are they not still and we only think that they are rushing along?

What is photon?

I recall a physics lessons and four little balls hanging on bits of string. The teacher pulled the first ball back and let it go. It hit the three balls which had been still up until now. Only the last one sprung back; two remained still. They were transferring energy to each other but this appeared only in the movement of the last ball. The balls hanging in the way of the transferred energy remained still. Does space (if it does have a structure) also transfer energy which appears at the end of a “chain” made up of its elements?

Are photons not, in fact, its components (building blocks) which have no energy and only when induced do they gain physical qualities which we manage to measure? (In other words, up until the moment of their induction they are not photons but “creations” which can only become photons).

Experiments which accelerate the smallest particles to a speed close to that of light demand ever greater quantities of energy, which increases their mass. To a lay person it looks as if the accelerated particles were met by some unknown resistance of space¸ because of the structure of which it is made.

Light behaves like a wave and like a particle.

But water, after all, behaves likewise. It is a huge reservoir of individual particles. As a whole, it undulates but as it hits the shore, it throws up droplets.

Can similar questions not be asked regarding electrons?

Physicists say they spin around the nucleus of an atom following defined “orbits” and, according to energy, “leap” from one orbit to another. They are either further from or closer to the atom’s nucleus and their crossing from one “orbit” to another is not fluid, but goes in leaps and bounds.

Can we exclude the fact that there is no “leap” of electrons from “orbit” to “orbit” but that on each “orbit” there is a different electron?

In such a situation, an electron which spun along a defined “orbit” and received an additional dose of energy would “transfer” it to an electron, invisible until now, spinning along another orbit (or, in fact, to a “potential” electron – a “creation” which can only become one, that is an electron with properties known to us). Just like the keys on a piano keyboard. They are silent and only once pressed do they become sound.

Is space not a sum of some sort of “creations” which are unknown to us or some sort of “creations” which when they appear we call photons, electrons or gravitons?

Scientists wonder why some particles have a mass (the potential of pulling in and of being pulled) while others do not.

Space does not have a mass. No doubt if it did, it would be squeezed into one point as a result of gravity and cease to exist.

Can we exclude that only objects moving around within space possess mass?

Of course, it would first have to be proved that particles which do not possess mass do not move around in space, that they constitute those elements which are still and only transfer energy to each other (like those small balls).

Most structures are not continuous. Water, in its fluid state, appears to be a continuous structure yet we know it is made up of many separate particles.

The continuity of water is delusive.

Can the impression of discontinuity also be a mere illusion?

Can a structure which appears discontinuous turn out to be one object?

We sleep on a sheet. It is a flat object woven of criss-crossing threads. I believe it could be possible to weave it from only one long thread many metres in length. We could obtain from it not only a “flat” sheet but also a three-dimensional object. After all, by folding a sheet into a square we obtain a cube. This entire structure would be made up of one, continuous object – a thread.

Can space be “woven” from one object? Be one Object?

I’m travelling by train. The compartment is 4 square metres. There is a door at the side and opposite it a window. On a level with my head, behind me, is a mirror and another one on the opposite side. In each I see a reflection of the mirror opposite. I get up and see my head reflecting in both mirrors. One reflects the other and the reflection in it. I see my head reflected hundreds of times in both directions. Reality extends into infinity although there is only one head.

What would happen if every reflection (hundreds of the same heads) started to live its own life – move, irrespective of whether I’m moving my head?

The heads would start touching each other, speaking, talking to each other.

Is the World made up not of billions of homogenous particles but only of one particle “reflected” many times like in a mirror, like an echo? And every “reflection” behaves differently?

Is that possible?

If one of the mirrors had a mark on it, a crack which deformed the reflected image a little, and the distorted image was reflected again millions of times, then what was initially a tiny distortion would lead to the appearance of an image bearing no resemblance to the original.

Is space only a small point which gives the illusion of being vast?

This seems unlikely.

We are well acquainted with the experiment of a bath filled with water and a body immersed in it. If the bath is full, immersing any object whatsoever in it will cause the water to overflow.

If we managed to “pump out” (remove) every material object from the Universe’s space, would space shrink by the volume of removed matter?

Such a task, of course, cannot be performed but it is possible to imagine.

Consequently, does the quantity of matter increase the volume of space? If there was more of it, would the Universe be vaster?

If that were so, it would mean that space and material objects were distinctly different “substances”.

Are matter and space two separate “substances”?

Does matter exist alongside space or is it a part of it?

We travel. None of it could be possible without energy. A car burns fuel. An animal moving from one place to another needs fodder.

One can imagine a different possibility. Instead of travelling, we can imagine we “attract” towards ourselves the places to which we are going, just as we move a plate towards our mouths instead of leaning over to it. Such “attracting” of two points in space would result in “shrinking” it.

Would we then obtain a quantity of energy?

Would the “shrinking” (squeezing) of space result in energy being obtained?

Can space be changed into energy?

Indeed, scientists state that mass can be changed into energy (the famous equation E = mc²).

If both mass as well as space could be converted into energy it would mean that particles possessing mass and space are not separate “substances” either but are the same thing.

It would mean that particles which possess mass contain just a little more energy than the fields of space.

Would matter, then, be merely some kind of a “thickening” of space with a little more energy?

Nothing more than lumps in custard or soup which has not been properly stirred?

Lumps of ice - that is, water in a different state of energy - floating in water?

Are matter and space only forms of the same energy?

If that were the case, it would mean the entire Universe is merely one, great “portion” of Energy!

Matter changes; 1,000 years ago human beings lived and trees grew. Today, too, human beings live and trees grow, but they are not the same things. Those people have died and the trees withered.

And space? Is it the same as 1,000 years ago? Is it unchanging and constant?

Does space undergo transformation?

100 years ago, in the same region of the Universe, was space the same as it is today?

And is there no space beyond the Universe?

Cosmologists claim there isn’t. They say it is expanding in all directions. Apparently, galaxies are getting further and further away from each other at the speed of light. (After a certain period they ought, surely, to become invisible, go out like streetlights).

If this were true then space would behave like living organisms. It would mean that space buds, “multiplies”, every one of its points multiplies like bacteria, that one point becomes two and two become four.

Of course, there is yet another possibility. The number of points remains the same whereas each one increases in volume.

We do not give it much thought but every living organism (including you and I) is also made up of space. Between every atom’s nucleus and the electrons spinning around it, there is, indeed, space. And so each of us is filled with it.

It permeates each of us.

Does expanding space distance only galaxies from each other?

Does it expand in each of us?

Do the volume of objects change?

Do people, the earth, plates not undergo expansion to the same degree, something we do not perceive only because at the same time all scales (rulers) expand as well?

If that were so and, along with them, the distance between objects increased proportionately we would probably not notice the process.

Or maybe they are shrinking?

Such a possibility seems absurd but apparently an opposite process really is taking place. Objects accelerated to the speed of light become shorter while their mass increases.

This shortening is probably an illusion similar to that which we experience when measuring various objects. When we put a ruler to a vase and measure it we obtain the correct result. If, however, we move away from the vase with our ruler and, holding it in front of our eyes, measure it again, it will turn out to be shorter. Objects, as they get further away from us, seem to get smaller. We see a star in the sky, many times larger than our Sun, as a point with a diameter of one millimetre. In order to take a correct measurement we have to hold the measure directly against the measured object. It is probably the same with objects moving at a speed of light. In order to obtain the correct measurement we probably would have to measure them with a “tape-measure” rushing at the same speed as they do.

Asking about space we ought also to ask about the forces which operate within it.

Is invisible gravity not mysterious?

It is enough to extend one’s arm and place any object whatsoever above it. We will not feel any force but if we drop it, it will hit our arm. We can stand on the line Earth-Sun. Our senses will not experience any effect yet the Sun which is at a distance of many thousands of kilometres from us, through our body, attracts the Earth with great force (which in turn attracts the Sun).

There is no way we can “shelter” from this force like we can shelter from a gust of wind.

The force of gravity is still obscure. Apart from measuring and describing its strength, scientists know nothing more about it. They only suggest that its carriers may be the gravitons they have invented.

Nobody has photographed it.

All bodies fall to Earth at the same speed, regardless of their weight. Both a heavy axe and a light feather (leaving aside, of course, friction and the resistance of air). Since their speed is the same, the force attracting them is clearly different. If I wanted to cycle at an even speed while going uphill against the wind, looking at the speedometer I would have to keep on changing the pressure I was applying to the pedals. Even so, I would not manage to maintain exactly the same speed.

And Earth? Of course this is not possible, but to an amateur it looks as if Earth “locates” objects, calculating their mass and adapting the force it has to expend in order to “attract” them. If there was a “mistake” in the calculations (in “weighing”) a given object it would fall faster (or slower) than others.

This belief that bodies of different mass fall at the same speed is probably false. If the Moon and an axe were to fall to Earth, the Moon would fall faster because it also attracts the Earth with its own great mass. Whereas the forces of gravity influencing Earth which are “produced” by a feather and an axe, are not so different so that both these bodies fall simultaneously.

Is it really material bodies which produce the force we call gravity?

Is it possible that what we call gravity does not exist at all, that there is no such force?

Could it be possible that the attraction of bodies is not caused by their affecting each other but by something else?

The simplest but most ridiculous way of explaining the effect of gravity in a different way would be to take it that all objects really do get larger.

If they did get larger but space remained unchanged, then a flower-pot “falling out” of the fourth floor of a building would not fall but remain in the same place in space and only the speeding (“swelling”) Earth would “catch up” with it.

Of course, it would then still remain to explain what causes the planets to circle the Sun along their orbits and not merge with it.

Instead, we can consider whether, in the vicinity of material objects possessing a mass, space “folds up” like an accordion or fan. A little as if it shrunk, as I questioned earlier. Would covering any distance whatsoever in such a squashed space not demand much more energy than covering the same distance in “normal” space?

Does space get more and more “squashed” the closer it is to a mass and the greater the mass?

Is what we call gravity not merely space “shrinking”?

And does space “shrink” in “black holes”, objects which by force of gravity are squeezed into small points?

Blundering further in these day-dreams about gravity, we can ask:

Where do the planets get their power from, or rather the energy which causes other objects to be constantly attracted?

Let us attach a small weight to a piece of string and trace a circle in the air with it. To prevent the weight driven by centrifugal force from tearing away from our hand, we have to expend a certain amount of energy. The same amount of energy at every moment and these moments are many. In the end, we will have no strength left.

Can the force of planets not be depleted? Does it never weaken?

Is it not depleted by other attracted objects?

If we were to put another Moon onto the Earth’s orbit, would Earth attract it just as strongly? And if we were to add yet another and another, or even a hundred similar Moons?

From what I remember from school, the Earth would attract each of them in the same way. The force of Earth would not grow any weaker.

When we talk about the pull of gravity (for example, that of the Moon by the Earth) we are simplifying things somewhat. It is not Earth which attracts the Moon. It is the work of all its atoms at once. Each individual atom attracts another by gravity. The two atoms stuck together increase the strength of their attraction. A million of them increase the power a million fold. Hence the strength of Earth’s influence.

A similar question could be asked as regards electrons. They orbit the nuclei of atoms which are composed of protons. They do not get any further from them and their course is always the same. Electrons with a negative electrical charge and protons with a positive charge attract each other.

They, too, have as if an “inexhaustible” force which makes them attract each other.

I asked earlier whether movement takes place in leaps and bounds.

If an electron circling the nucleus of an atom did not do this fluently but “leapt” from one point to another and there were millions of points on the way, protons and electrons would have to interact millions of times expending millions of tiny “doses” of energy. Adding these “doses” together we should get the amount of energy which has decreased in them.

Where do protons and electrons get their energy from in order to attract each other mutually?

Of course, it is possible that they have an enormous store of energy or that the energy expended to hold the atom “in one piece” is so negligible that it cannot be seen.

We can, however, imagine a different situation.

Do the particles of which atoms are made not draw energy from space in order to attract each other?

Is the pull of gravity not just a side effect of atoms “absorbing” space? Or rather the energy contained in it?

Is space, in the vicinity of material objects which possess a mass, absorbed by these objects?

Would it then be that we are not pulled to these objects but “pressed in” by the space thrusting against us from outside and expanding?

Would we notice the difference between attraction and pressure?

A functioning vacuum cleaner does not attract dust. It is pushed inside by the pressure of air outside being greater than that within.

Scientists suspect that objects which possess mass emit waves of gravity. If such waves did not disperse outside these objects but, on the contrary, ran towards them and met inside (contrary, therefore, to light waves which go “from” the source of light and not “towards” it), they could “carry” other objects, which have a mass, towards themselves. Suck them in. Pull them, when they had the chance, as they absorbed the energy contained in space. Energy which they allocate to the constant production of waves that hold me (and you) at a vertical to the Earth’s surface and do not allow us to leave it. Producing such waves, objects ought to pulsate. Like a heart. Incessantly sucking and simultaneously quivering.

Could elementary particles, therefore, be objects which suck the energy in space and expend this energy in order to produce the quivering which results in waves of gravity?

Is, therefore, the theory stating that all elementary particles are, in fact, quivering strings, correct?

Or perhaps gravity is caused by something entirely different?

Most phenomena in our world can be explained by mechanics. Should we not apply the simple rules of mechanics here, too?

If space had a structure of its own, we could try to explain the force of attraction by objects being moved (like on a conveyor belt) by the particles which go to make them up. It would be quite droll to imagine these billions of particles (if they exist) which constitute space, equipped with some sort of hooks by which they caught on to the objects being moved. It would be less entertaining to imagine the tiny particles without mass which make up space, moving objects as they rotated. The speed of rotation and the expanse in which this rotation takes place, would vary, the larger the mass next to them the larger these would be.

I am aware, of course, that asking these questions I am merely speculating, quite like people living centuries ago who imagined what undiscovered seas and lands looked like. There are plenty of amusing stories about monsters living in unknown seas and strange beasts, be it dragons, living in unknown lands. Asking these questions I am, no doubt, behaving like those people in the olden times whose problems and visions only make us laugh today.

I suppose, too, that the Builders of the Universe (taking it that they exist and are watching us) are having a great time seeing the clumsy efforts of human beings (including me) to understand and explain what this force is which keeps us upright and does not allow us to leave the ground and glide effortlessly into the air. The force which unites us all in one system called the planet.

That is, of course, if they care about what is happening here and it they have a sense of humour.

QUESTIONS by Ryszard Cichy, Wrocław 2008 Retro-Art, Warszawa 2008, ISBN 978-83-87992-56-9 translated by Danusia Stok