Super Solar Ring: ...but remember, don't look directly at it or you WILL GO BLIND!!!
Super Solar Ring: ...but remember, don't look directly at it or you WILL GO BLIND!!!Courtesy Incredible India

Get ready, because one of Newton’s laws is about to be tested. A little thing called gravity is going into question during the total solar eclipse on July 22nd.

I’m sure most of you have heard of or know what a solar eclipse is. If not, here’s a refresher: “A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon lies between the Sun and Earth, casting its shadow on our planet. Depending on the location of the observer on the Earth’s surface, the observer may see a total solar eclipse, a partial solar eclipse or none at all. If the observer is lucky enough to be located in a position where the moon’s umbra contacts the Earth they will witness a total solar eclipse of the sun.”

Unfortunately for those of us in St. Paul, the only way for us to see the total solar eclipse would be to buy a one-way ticket to the eastern hemisphere. The path of the eclipse will start in eastern India and end about 2,000 miles south of Hawaii. During which it will be visible for nearly 6 minutes in China, and that’s where Newton steps in (not literally of course).

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences are about to test the controversial theory that gravity drops slightly during a total eclipse. Originally observed in 1954, the French physicist Maurice Allais noticed erratic behavior in a swinging pendulum when the eclipse passed over Paris. The shift in direction of the pendulum’s swing suggests a sudden change in gravitational pull. Though tests have occurred since, nothing has been conclusive.

The best chance to prove the gravity anomaly is this Wednesday during the longest eclipse duration of the 21st Century. This is why Chinese geophysicists are preparing six different sites with an array of highly sensitive instruments to take gravitational readings during the total eclipse. The head geophysicist Tang Keyun states, "If our equipment operates correctly, I believe we have a chance to say the anomaly is true beyond all doubt."

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Wa-ai-ai-ait a second...
Why would gravity change during an eclipse? It's not like the moon is necessarily any closer to the Earth during eclipses. And I imagine that the sun is both big enough and far enough away that you'd think that lining the two of them up wouldn't really make any difference. Plus, is that how gravity even works?

I want explanations! (I did click on the "gravitational anomalies" link... but there were so many small, orange words. I couldn't deal.)

posted on Mon, 07/20/2009 - 12:35pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

dude JGordon, just go with it. gravity may get confused because the moon is sandwiched in the way....oooh...can't wait for the eclipse, wish i was in china right now!

posted on Mon, 07/20/2009 - 2:52pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I think maybe you're right. I'm willing the bet that there may be magic involved too.

posted on Mon, 07/20/2009 - 3:46pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

yea! magic! i'm actually doing a special dance right now....to call gravity and speak to it, to ask it to slow down.

posted on Mon, 07/20/2009 - 6:09pm

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