Le Sage's Theory of Gravitation - Basic Theory

Basic Theory

The theory posits that the force of gravity is the result of tiny particles (corpuscles) moving at high speed in all directions, throughout the universe. The intensity of the flux of particles is assumed to be the same in all directions, so an isolated object A is struck equally from all sides, resulting in only an inward-directed pressure but no net directional force (P1).

With a second object B present, however, a fraction of the particles that would otherwise have struck A from the direction of B is intercepted, so B works as a shield, i.e. from the direction of B, A will be struck by fewer particles than from the opposite direction. Likewise B will be struck by fewer particles from the direction of A than from the opposite direction. One can say that A and B are "shadowing" each other, and the two bodies are pushed toward each other by the resulting imbalance of forces (P2). Thus the apparent attraction between bodies is, according to this theory, actually a diminished push from the direction of other bodies, so the theory is sometimes called push gravity or shadow gravity, although it is more widely referred to as Lesage gravity.

Nature of collisions

If the collisions of body A and the gravific particles are fully elastic, the intensity of the reflected particles would be as strong as of the incoming ones, so no net directional force would arise. The same is true if a second body B is introduced, where B acts as a shield against gravific particles in the direction of A. The gravific particle C which ordinarily would strike on A is blocked by B, but another particle D which ordinarily would not have struck A, is re-directed by the reflection on B, and therefore replaces C. Thus if the collisions are fully elastic, the reflected particles between A and B would fully compensate any shadowing effect. In order to account for a net gravitational force, it must be assumed that the collisions are not fully elastic, or at least that the reflected particles are slowed, so that their momentum is reduced after the impact. This would result in streams with diminished momentum departing from A, and streams with undiminished momentum arriving at A, so a net directional momentum toward the center of A would arise (P3). Under this assumption, the reflected particles in the two-body case will not fully compensate the shadowing effect, because the reflected flux is weaker than the incident flux.

Inverse square law

Since it is assumed that some or all of the gravific particles converging on an object are either absorbed or slowed by the object, it follows that the intensity of the flux of gravific particles emanating from the direction of a massive object is less than the flux converging on the object. We can imagine this imbalance of momentum flow - and therefore of the force exerted on any other body in the vicinity - distributed over a spherical surface centered on the object (P4). The imbalance of momentum flow over an entire spherical surface enclosing the object is independent of the size of the enclosing sphere, whereas the surface area of the sphere increases in proportion to the square of the radius. Therefore, the momentum imbalance per unit area decreases inversely as the square of the distance.

Mass proportionality

From the premises outlined so far, there arises only a force which is proportional to the surface of the bodies. But gravity is proportional to the masses. To satisfy the need for mass proportionality, the theory posits that a) the basic elements of matter are very small so that gross matter consists mostly of empty space, and b) that the particles are so small, that only a small fraction of them would be intercepted by gross matter. The result is, that the "shadow" of each body is proportional to the surface of every single element of matter. If it is then assumed that the elementary opaque elements of all matter are identical (i.e., having the same ratio of density to area), it will follow that the shadow effect is, at least approximately, proportional to the mass (P5).

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