Getting ready for work the other morning, I dropped a knife while mayonnaising my sandwich. Moments later, in the bathroom, I dropped my hairbrush.
Maybe I’ve got a mild case of Lou Gehrig’s Disease and will feel better by the weekend. Maybe I’m just getting a little old.
Or maybe — in these days when we’re re-considering dozens of other societal institutions — it’s time to revisit the value of gravity. Has this fundamental interaction of nature lost its appeal? Do we still want to live in a universe in which objects with mass attract one another? Or is it time to shop around for other systems of physics?
I’m suggesting that we look at this issue with fresh eyes, especially since it hurts my back to be bending over so much.
Gravity was invented in 1687 by Sir Isaac Newton, who famously watched an apple fall from a tree to the ground and thought, “Huh — that’s weird.” Before this invention, people and objects would just drift off into space with nothing to hold them Earth-bound. Jesus ascended into heaven. Moses got the Red Sea to rise up so the Jews could escape from the pharaoh. Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes were able to invade and defeat rival civilizations because they rode on flying horses.
After Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation was published, the world started to settle down. Modern economies were able to develop because shopkeepers could put goods on a shelf and they’d stay still. Western culture and civilization flourished, at least until 2008 and the collapse of the world financial system.
Now, as we question other once-dear fundamentals of life, perhaps it’s time to consider at least a partial revocation of Newton’s law.
I’m not proposing such a radical change as to allow people to be floating off into the sky, never to return (though that might be nice to contemplate for certain pop singers, maniacal dictators and the loud woman with the twangy accent who sits next to me at work). I’ll leave it for the Tea Partiers and other radical thinkers to contemplate what that kind of world would be like. I acknowledge that there’s a need for at least some gravity — just not as much as we have now.
Think of the problems that less gravity might be able to solve:
–Illegal immigration would be a thing of the past, since undocumented Mexicans wouldn’t actually be walking on the soil of the United States, but instead hovering several feet above it
–Traffic congestion in major cities would be dramatically improved, as long-dreamed-of rocket cars that sail through highways in the sky become a reality
–Overpopulation in the poor nations of Asia and Africa would be mitigated when it becomes possible for whole families to live on top of one another’s shoulders
–War-torn regions of the world would put aside their conflicts so they could concentrate on not running into helicopters
–Global warming would no longer be a concern, as large parts of our atmosphere dissipated into the voids of space
–The American obesity epidemic would disappear overnight, as people who once weighed thousands of pounds are able to log in at a trim 185 pounds
–Everybody would be hopping about like those brave Apollo astronauts romping on the moon’s surface back in the 1970s, lending an air of childlike joy to everyday life
Yes, I admit there would be some disadvantages. This holiday season’s hottest gift idea, the Fushigi Magic Gravity Ball now on sale at Walgreen’s for only $19.99, would no longer “mesmerize the mind and confuse the senses.” (Well, it might continue to confuse the senses as to why people ever considered spending almost twenty bucks on a simple silver ball.) Suction shoes would become the new sensation.
I recommend that the president set up a national commission to study whether the laws of gravity are something that Congress might want to consider repealing. I know partisan divides are quite stark these days; yet I strangely have faith that this is one issue where the right and left might agree.
All it would take is to track down Sir Isaac’s descendants and ask them to revoke their famous ancestor’s lifetime of study. Singer-songwriter Juice Newton, whose 1981 smash “Queen of Hearts” hit number one on both pop and country charts, still tours and can currently be found playing at the municipal auditorium in Missoula, Montana. Recent Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton of Auburn is busy in his Alabama dorm preparing for finals and the Jan. 10 BCS title game against second-ranked Oregon. I’m sure both would be amenable to refinements in the law that would give us all a good chuckle.
Let’s give reduced-gravity existence a try. We have nothing to lose, as long as we tie it all down.