Ask A Genius 378 – Supplanting and Expanding

In-Sight Publishing

Ask A Genius 378 – Supplanting and Expanding

September 10, 2018

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How does the supplanting and expansion of Universal Gravitation by General Relativity lead to some thoughts about IC?

Rick Rosner: When Newton set up his theory of Universal Gravitation, that all the matter in the universe attracts all the other matter according to the formula m/r^2 or m/d^2 where “d” is the distance between the two masses who’s gravitational force is being measured.

There is some little bit of evidence that he considered trying to account for the dimensionality of space but then threw up his hands and said, “We are going to assume that it is a background that exists.’ I do not know. I am not a historian of Newton.

In any case, Newton assumes a fixed space of three Euclidean spatial dimensions. I do not know if he talks about a time dimension, but he talks about a straightforward Euclidean flat space in which all the gravitation happens.

Einstein comes along and presents gravitation as a bending or deformation of 3-dimensional space, where under Universal Gravitation objects follow paths that curve because of gravity.

But under General Relativity objects, including light, follow geodesics, which are the general relativistic equivalent of straight lines and it is space itself that is bent by the presence of mass.

It accounts for more stuff. The math is harder. But it lets you do more stuff, including having a picture – namely, the Big Bang – of the dynamics of the universe. But it still assumes space exists.

There are people like Wheeler who try to come up with programs like “It from Bit,” which is looking at the universe as a giant processor or a big computer. Somewhere included under that effort is the idea that the information of the universe should also determine the structure of the universe.

That the relationships among the particles in the universe should determine how space is shaped. That there is no pre-existing space where things play out. That space should follow from the theory – why space is three dimensional but bent by gravity.

It should all come out of some overarching theory of how information works. Einstein was a step forward. But there is room for further steps forward. My theory in the Quora responses has been legitimately criticized for being hand-wavey and not sufficiently turned into equations.

Those criticisms are legit. At the same time, there have been hand-wavey theorizers in the past. They, often, didn’t make the 100% persuasive case for their theory. They simply got some retroactive credit, like Immanuel Kant postulated “Island Universes.”

By which he meant, there were other galaxies in the universe. I forget what his logic was or if he assumed that there just can’t be one galaxy. 200 or 300 years later, he was proved right and is mentioned when stuff is written up.

But he could not prove his supposition 200 years before there were not sufficiently powered telescopes to prove the existence of other galaxies. Wegner was the continental drift guy. There was one guy 300 years before him who said, “It looks like the continents might have initially fit together.”

No mechanisms were proposed. That is the guy from 1500 or 1600 gets some retroactive credit. Gamow himself, one of the originators of Big Bang theory was notoriously bad at math.

So, he had to work with other people to help him mathematicize it. His theory did, indeed, contain a lot of math about nucleosynthesis, what elements would be formed in the Big Bang and what elements would be formed later in stars as stars cooked later.

Even though, he was bad at math. He did get some math in. His theory gets credit.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer


Rick Rosner

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing


In-Sight Publishing


[1] Four format points for the session article:

  1. Bold text following “Scott Douglas Jacobsen:” or “Jacobsen:” is Scott Douglas Jacobsen & non-bold text following “Rick Rosner:” or “Rosner:” is Rick Rosner.
  2. Session article conducted, transcribed, edited, formatted, and published by Scott.
  3. Footnotes & in-text citations in the interview & references after the interview.
  4. This session article has been edited for clarity and readability.

For further information on the formatting guidelines incorporated into this document, please see the following documents:

  1. American Psychological Association. (2010). Citation Guide: APA. Retrieved from
  2. Humble, A. (n.d.). Guide to Transcribing. Retrieved from

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