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Gravity vs. Magnetism: Which Is a Stronger Force?


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Many scientists will laugh at this question, but I suspect a lot of people have simply never thought of it before.

Which force is stronger: gravity, or magnetism?

To answer this question, take a compass and hold it. 

The needle will point to the North.

Now, let go of it.

The compass will fall to the ground, and if it doesn't shatter upon impact, the needle will probably spin around about five times, before once again settling down and pointing towards the North.

That should answer your question: Gravity is *much* stronger than magnetism. To be exact, gravity is 137-times stronger than magnetism *at the planetary level*.

There is, of course, an exception to this rule: Electromagnetism is stronger at the atomic and sub-atomic levels, so things are not as obvious as they might initially seem.

Also, suppose a paper clip is lying on the ground, and you touch it with a magnet, and try to lift it off the ground. Which force wins: gravity or magnetism? Ponder that one as the paper clip has been raised to eye-level.

And then there's this:

Which leads us into tensile strengths ...

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9 hours ago, DanielK said:

Yet, Pluto is 3.67 billion miles away from the Sun, has a mass of 28,659,999,999,999,998,951,424 kilograms (that's 28+ sextillion kilograms), travels at 10,623 miles per hour, and the Sun's gravity is strong enough to keep it in orbit.


The Milky Way contains our solar system, as well as 100-400 billion other stellar systems.

The Local Group is a cluster of galaxies, containing the Milky Way, as well as 1,300 other galaxies.

The Laniakea Supercluster is a cluster of clusters, containing the Local Group, as well as 300-500 other clusters..

Each of these are clustered together due to gravity!

The Great Attractor, a gravitational anomaly at the center of the Laniakea Supercluster, is what is keeping everything together - the Great Attractor (whatever the hell it is) is hundreds-of-thousands of times more massive than the Milky Way galaxy.

If anyone cares, this might be a good time to read up on dark matter.

For whatever it's worth, I believe (based purely on hypothesis, which I suppose one might call extrapolation, or even "faith,") that there are things much, much smaller - perhaps even infinitely smaller - than quarks, which are the smallest things we've discovered in the universe (in 1968). When my parents were in school, it was protons and neutrons (discovered in 1897). When my great-grandparents were in school, it was the atom (theorized by John Dalton in the early 1800s). When America became a nation in 1789, the smallest particles were often thought to be grains of sand.

Just as a cat cannot understand calculus (despite the brain of a cat being an extraordinary thing), humans cannot understand the mysteries of the universe. Perhaps over the eons, as our brains develop further (assuming, of course, we survive, which is highly unlikely), we will be able to comprehend what is currently incomprehensible. 

This almost makes me dizzy, because I literally cannot comprehend it, no matter how hard I try. It's like trying to think of the beginning of time, the end of space, or Jake Parrott figuring out how to PM me the answer to Ackermann's Function for A (4, 2).

Jake, I still owe you dinner at Maestro - you can pick your substitute restaurant.


I discussed this once over eleven years ago (at that time, the Laniakea Supercluster was referred to as the Virgo Supercluster, which is only a small part of the much-larger Laniakea Supercluster). 

We're a bunch of microbes, running around thinking how important we all are. When you take a universal perspective of life and death, things just don't matter. That doesn't alleviate the very real human suffering we all experience, but it perhaps (and hopefully) makes it easier to deal with, especially for those of us who are forced to deal with it. Does it matter if an amoeba dies? Does it matter if a star, billions of light years away, goes super-nova? Perhaps for Mrs. Amoeba, or for the entities living in that stellar system, but for us? We don't even know it's happening. It's the same for them when one of us suffers through the ravages of disease - they don't even know it's happening. There is some deep meaning buried inside all of this; damned if I know what it is.

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