Speculations on a Quantum Model of Gravity

Reference & EducationCollege & University

  • Author Robert Depaolo
  • Published March 28, 2019
  • Word count 2,257

by Robert DePaolo


This article discusses a possible connection between uncertainty and the particle/wave duality inherent in quantum mechanics and the lawful (classical) descriptions of the gravitational force. The point is made that if gravitons exist and are spewed out from the energy of rotating celestial bodies they would interact with other bodies. This would result in a smearing process, whereby particles would act as waves and ultimately be relegated to fixed orbits - as seen in the structure of an atom. While the atom does not function exactly like a planetary system (lest all matter cease to exist) it is conceivable that planetary systems share some characteristics with the atom; specifically energy-determined binding orbits.

The quest to unify classical and quantum physics revolves largely around the nature of gravity. A confounding aspect of theoretical physics has to do with two well-substantiated versions of the cosmos; Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics. To further clarify; Einstein's theory of relativity pertains mostly to large scale phenomena. With regard to gravity that means large celestial bodies attract smaller ones in an inverse square relationship. More specifically the attraction is determined by the mass and distance of one body toward the other. A very massive body a short distance from a smaller one will exert greater gravitational pull than a less massive one at a longer distance.

While that classical view applies to large bodies, it does not seem to apply to small-scale particle interactions. In other words, while one would expect an electron (a particle with mass) to attract a photon (a massless particle) that is not the case. Instead on that small scale there is uncertainty in the movements, attractions and consistency within what amounts to a para-gravitational relationship.

Reconciling the two ideas has been difficult. Quantum mechanics and Relativity Theory both cropped up around the turn of the 20th century. While Einstein actually had a hand in the development of quantum mechanics through his work on the relationship between light and electromagnetics, he was not comfortable with the deviation from mathematical structure encompassed in one aspect of quantum mechanics - the principle of uncertainty. This principle, put forth by Werner Heisenberg holds that particles can act like waves and at that point their position and momentum cannot both be determined.

On a fundamental level this appears to reflect a less than orderly universe. Einstein's discomfort was captured in his now famous statement that (in effect) God does not play dice with the universe. He did not believe the universe was unlawful, particularly since on a large scale he (and Newton) proved it was exquisitely lawful. He even stated on one occasion that due to its "spooky" nature the explanation offered in quantum mechanics could not be technically described as "physics".

In many ways Einstein had a point. With its bimodal particle/wave duality whereby particles fluctuate in and out of existence quantum mechanics is a rather absurd, even paradoxical idea. On one hand it operates on the assumption that in the strictest sense the universe is not lawful, merely probabilistic and that objects with low mass behave differently from those with large mass. It's a bit like saying throwing a baseball against a wall will result in a thump and rebound while a golf ball will not. One could ask: If mass differentials determine attractions in space why should this not apply for low mass particles? Moreover what would be the mass threshold at which point the universe shifts from deterministic to probabilistic?

Interestingly, for all its uncertain nature quantum mechanics is in some ways more structured than relativity theory. For example it assumes that interactions occur because concrete packets (quanta) of matter bombard each other and cause the release or absorption of other particles that generate force and matter. It is a "billiard ball" model rather than owing to wave or field interactions, even though it ultimately relies on wave functions as a bail out concept. In other words quantum theory is a bounce theory, which is about as physical as it gets.

In addition, while quantum theory holds that particle movement and position are not predictable or measurable in linear fashion it also holds that such particles tend to move in highly structured orbits which are determined by their energy levels (phases) and with no possible deviation or gravitational collapse from those paths except when a new level of energy is added in a quantum leap (which can be a very small amount). It as if you're driving a car in the right lane on a highway at 60 mph and want to shift over to the left lane but can't do so because the car's (energy level/speed are not in a high enough phase). Once you hit 70 mph you can then veer into the left lane but being in a high energy phase you can never get back to the right lane until you, once again, decelerate back to 60 mph. That is a highly structured, almost repressive aspect of quantum mechanics. The reason for these restrictions is because the discrete packet aspect of matter and force place energy level as well as particle configurations on circumscribed paths. There's nothing particularly uncertain about that.

That adds to the confusion between relativity and the quantum theory of gravity. Einstein's picture of gravity is a geophysical (geodesic) model, characterized as a dent or curvature in the fabric of space. Quantum gravity is presumed to result from a bounce and absorb process between and among particles which does not adhere to physical/material formula and is unpredictable other than in terms of likelihoods. This is based on the underlying idea that the particles in question (gravitons) are massless and as Richard Feynman suggested, rather than traveling in a straight line take every possible path as they embark on a circuitous journey from point A to point B. Still, those particles are ultimately physical/material. The fact that they do not adhere to a deterministic level of measurement brings us back to the question of how to resolve the classical and quantum gravity dilemma.


A first item to consider is that the particle presumed to create the bounce/interaction, the graviton, has not been found. One reason might be that it is supposed to be massless, traveling at light speed and possibly switching back and forth between the real and virtual domains i.e. popping in and out due to annihilation and reformulation. Yet the photon is also massless, travels at light speed and can fluctuate similarly and is readily detectable.

A second item to address is the nature of gravity, which virtually all physicists believe to be a negative force. What does that mean? Simply that when we think of force or energy it is typically associated with an outward thrust. For instance, if you toss a ball against a wall it will rebound, not get absorbed into the wall. Just as reaching the wall required a toss or push so would the rebound require an opposite push. Always a push, never an absorption. As a grander example, when the cosmic egg supposedly expanded in the big bang it pushed outward.

On the other hand gravity pulls things in - acts in opposition to the force of the big bang. That seems to contradict the bounce aspect of the quantum model. Unless one accepts Einstein's concept of space curvature as the final word on gravity one has to consider the possibility that gravity can't be described in quantum terms because while it is a negative force, it is still a physical force. So what's going on?

This writer - not an academic physicist (actually a psychologist by training) has difficulty with that physical/para-physical quandary. In some ways the simplicity of relativity theory (which coincides with the tradition inherent in Occam's razor) seems somehow more reasonable. Yet quantum mechanics is well supported by experiments so one must seek some way to integrate the two explanations. In a loosely constructed manner this can be done through the ensuing assumptions.

To get there.....

  1. Assume gravity is not a negative force but does operate in quantum/bounce fashion as a push/collision process.

  2. Assume that all bodies (plants. stars etc) of both large and small masses are rotating and moving at considerable speed through space.

  3. Assume that in accord with centripetal force, the energy emanating from the rotation spews out particles, some of which are gravitons.

  4. Assume that this spewing corresponds in range and speed to the rotation and forward rate of speed of the bodies.

  5. Assume that more massive bodies spew out more particles over longer distances and at higher energy levels than less massive ones

  6. Assume the particles between inter-systemic bodies interact collide and/or absorb and that this interaction is violent enough for smearing to occur. As the solidarity and individuality of particles becomes blended smearing leads particles to become wave-like with specific frequencies and produce a surrounding field.

  7. Because the smearing process makes previously singular particles act like waves the centripetal force after-effect from the bodies it laid out in restrictive amplitudes and frequencies like the orbits of electrons in an atom.

  8. That puts the particles on specific paths from which they cannot deviate unless specifically higher energy levels are introduced so they can "switch lanes," That provides regulation for gravitational orbits.

  9. Assume that the reason for this post-bombardment, smearing-to-wave (quantum to classical) conversion is because when waves interact order results. That is because when troughs (low points) and crests (high points) interact they either cancel each other out or complement one another to form a new, fixed wavelength and specific energy-determined pathways. For example, high crest and low crest waves complement each other while high crest and high crest waves clash and have a cancelling- leveling effect. In either case order ensues. Orbits are stabilized.

  10. Assume the reason Newtonian mathematics of gravity is predictable, while quantum movement suggests not is because the initial bombardment of particles via the spewing effect is uncertain with regard to particle location, until smearing leads to wave-induced orbit-binding based on energy phases. In this model certainty is derived from uncertainty. Rather than representing two incompatible physical theories this model suggests a threshold is passed from the quantum to classical world. It involves a journey between the two phenomena, the end point being the deterministic, measurable aspect of gravity.

While this is somewhat loosely conceived it does dovetail with a third staple of the cosmos: Information theory. While somewhat peripheral to the quantum-classical quandary this process governs all aspects of matter and energy. It is based on the idea that information can only be extracted from a state of uncertainty. It is a conversion model offering a possible explanation of how this could occur by integrating the quantum, relativity models and information models. All of these theories are well substantiated within the scientific field. One obvious drawback is that this model presumes that gravity waves should be detectable and no definitive observations have yet confirmed that.

Further discussion...

Another speculative but interesting aspect of this model is that the relationship between mass and gravity could be partly explained. For example the particle emissions from larger bodies would emit a greater volume of gravitons. While particles such as photons and gravitons do not derive their energy levels strictly by quantity (more photons does not mean higher energy per se) they do increase energy stepwise as the paths and wavelengths are elevated to new energy levels. A larger mass would tend to emit more phasic influence and in effect drive the energy paths to higher levels, thus the gravitational drift from less massive to more massive. Ergo - the attraction of small masses to larger masses.

Another interesting possibility has to do with the comparison between large scale gravitational forces and the functions of the atom. The old universal onion idea suggested gravity and the operations of the universe obeyed the same principles as an atom: that the planetary orbits around the sun were an isomorphic version of protons rotating around the nucleus of an atom. This comparison was refuted because if electrons and protons simply rotated around the nucleus like a planet radiation discharge/entropy over time would lead to collapse of the atom (and everything in the universe). Yet while it does not appear the atom operates like a planetary system one could ask if the reverse is true. In other words, does gravity actually operate like the atom, with wave-induced, discrete pathways being responsible for the mathematical precision and constancy depicted in Newton's model? If so that would seem to put a damper on the big crunch theory which suggests that eventually the entire universe will collapse back into a tiny speck from gravitational implosion.

It also has implications for the existence of black holes because if attraction is restricted by wave-energy frequencies and an orbit-driven mechanism, then absent some energy stimulus great enough to create a "lane switch" collapse would be unlikely.


Feynman sum over Histories Ref. Hawking, S. Mlodinow, L. The Grand Design pp. 75-80 Bantam Books New York, NY 2010 PP. 75-80

Gravity as Negative force Ref. IBID pp. 180-182

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, Zimmerman-

Jones, Robbins, D. (2010) String Theory. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ 2010 pp. 109-110

Non detection of gravity waves Ref. Clegg, B. (2009) Before the Big Bang St. Martin's Griffin, New York, NY 2009 pp. 155-156

Particle smearing and discrete orbits Ref. Lederman, L. Hill, C. (2013) Beyond the God Particle Amherst, NY pp. 50-52

Particle wave duality and virtual/real particles Ref. Ibid p.p. 139-140

Robert DePaolo. M.S. Clinical Psychology, retired practitioner in clinical, education and neurobehavioral fields. Author of four books and many articles on science, psychology, politics, religion and music. Former professor of psychology NH University System

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