Freiherr Du Prel, Dr Carl - Magic as a natural science - 01 The mystery of gravity
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Magic as a natural science by Dr. Carl Freiherr Du Prel Part One: Magical Physics
Gravity and levitation
1. The mystery of gravity
Human language is not the product of scientific reflection, but arose long before all science. Thus, it does not characterize changes in nature as they correspond to scientific understanding, but rather, how these changes were seen by pre-historic man. He always placed himself as a standard for nature, and where, for example, he saw movement, he thought he saw life. Inasmuch as these two concepts are not opposites, the reflexive words of time arose. Linguistically, movement and life are still undivided, and when the wind blows through the tree, we say: the leaves are moving.
The natural scientist should actually protest against this expression; for it designates the process that we see, but not how we understand it. So science is always compelled to speak the language of non-science, that of prehistoric worldview.
Deeply rooted in us, however, this reveals in a very naïve way our joy in poetry. If the poet animates inanimate nature, we are delighted by his language, which reflects our innate worldview. It is subjectively colored; and exactly because the poet does not speak scientifically, does not describe the objective process, but rather impresses upon the human sense of sight, and achieves and absorbs the greatest vividness according to the principle of least action. The poetic enjoyment is based on the pleasant feeling associated with it.
Paleontological components are still numerous in our language and this pertains not only to the sense of touch, but also other senses treat changes in nature subjectively. This causes a lot of confusion in scientific debate. When we lift a stone from the ground, we have a feeling that there is an activity starting from the stone, a striving downwards that acts on our hand. When describing this feeling we say: the stone is heavy. With this we believe to have described the nature of the stone. We become used to the laymen's 'common sense' saying that all bodies are heavy.
This is another expression that the natural scientist should protest against, because in itself, a body is not heavy, but seems to become so only when there is another body near it that attracts it. Language, however, transforms passive attraction into a property of the stone; the cause of heaviness outside of the stone is transferred into the stone itself.
If the earth is present as an attracting body and the stone in man's hand is attracted - apart from mutual attraction for simplicity's sake - the stone seems to be heavy. But that it is a mere appearance would be revealed if the earth could be taken away from me. Only then would the actual nature of the stone be revealed and this would be not difficult to do. If I put the earth next to it again, its natural state will be changed: This is what we call heaviness. In short, the word gravity refers to the relationship between two bodies, not the nature of a single one; it refers to an effect on the stone, not a cause in the stone.
It is not in it that the cause of heaviness lies, but outside it, and when this cause is removed, the heaviness of the stone ceases. In the language of non-science, astronomers say that the earth has a weight of 120,000 trillion centners [sic]. But if we could remove the sun (and all the glittering stars), the weight of the earth would be zero; if I took away the body that attracted it, the other would of course no longer be attracted, and only in being attracted would its heaviness exist. In short, gravity is not at all the natural and unchangeable state of the bodies.
One might now think that this view is rather fruitless, because with the impossibility of escaping the attraction of the earth, bodies that have no weight cannot occur in earthly reality. But this concern is not justified. Of course, the earth cannot be removed, but its gravitational pull could perhaps be overcome if there were forces by which gravity could be transformed into levitation under lawful conditions.
We know well such a force which counteracts gravity: it is magnetism. More recently, however, many phenomena have been observed in the field of occultism, which are called levitation because they reduce or eliminate the natural weight of the body. Thousands of witnesses claim to have seen the tables rise and float in the air under the influence of hands placed on or even held over them. The spiritists have been talking about this for fifty years, but their opponents, instead of investigating the matter, have nothing to say but: 'Levitation is impossible because it contradicts the law of gravity!'
Thus the process described by an old oracle is constantly repeated: A wise man entered and with him a fool; the wise man first examined and then judged; the fool immediately judged and did not examine at all.
Mentioning magnets is already sufficient to prove that levitation can occur under certain circumstances - and that is just to be examined whether it can also occur under other circumstances. If there is one exception to the law of gravity, then there may be more. There could be other forces in nature which overcome the gravitational pull of the earth. This cannot be denied because we do not know what gravity is. We do see its effect, but not the physical process.
Physicists are well aware that the physical process of attraction is still a mystery. Various theories have already been put forward to explain gravity physically (), and since the problem is still unsolved, science has every reason to investigate the levitation phenomena; because the knowledge of the conditions under which gravity is cancelled out must throw light on gravity itself.
This much has already become clear from the past, that levitation can only be understood by using the concept of gravitation, so that we must first come to clarity about this. The first one, who proved gravitation strictly scientifically, already suspected in antiquity, was Newton. The law he discovered was that all bodies attract each other in direct proportion to the product of their masses and in inverse proportion to the square of the distance between them.
Thus for the first time universal value was attached to an earthly law, valid for the stone thrown by a street boy as for the comet coming to the depths of space. Only on this basis did the modern science of astrophysics become possible, which is founded on the assumption that all earthly laws have universal validity, that those of heat, density, electricity, etc. have universal validity. But Newton was well aware that he had only discovered the law of gravity, but not its cause. He confessed himself not to know what gravity was. He says:
"I have not yet been able to deduce from the phenomena the reason for this quality of gravity; but I do not abandon myself with hypotheses". (Hypotheses non fingo - Lat., I do not invent the hypotheses). He writes to Bentley: "The heaviness must be caused by some impulse which works constantly and in accordance with certain laws; but whether this impulse is a material or immaterial one I have left to my own judgment ".
The problem to be solved is therefore not: weight, but: Attraction. Newton writes about this to Bentley:
"It is incomprehensible that uninspired, raw matter, without mediation of anything else, which is not material, can have an effect from other matter without mutual contact."
In order to explain such an action at a distance, we can, according to the rules of logic, invert Newton's position in two ways, either by saying: It is understandable that animate matter can act at a distance, or by saying: It is understandable that inanimate matter can act at a distance by mediation.
The first position renounces a scientific solution and reaches for the liberation of matter, which Maupertuis did first, but more recently Zöllner did. The second position remains within natural science and points to an idea already found in Newton himself. He thought space was filled with a matter - ether - which mediated the phenomena of heat, light, gravity and electricity between the stars. Even before the publication of his work, he wrote to Boyle: "I look for the cause of gravity in the ether."
Just as the law of gravity could only be discovered through the cosmic expansion of an earthly law, we will also only be able to find the cause of gravity by elevating an earthly remote force to cosmic meaning. A science of astronomy for humans is only possible if we presuppose the universality of earthly laws, because only these we can subject to the experiment.
An earthly remote force that seems to be suitable for explaining gravity is electricity. In 1836 Mossoti, in a treatise "Sur les forces qui regissent la constitution interieure des corps" ("On the forces that govern the internal constitution of the bodies") - the imprint of which was reproduced by Zöllner - stated that gravitation can be deduced as a conclusion from those principles which dominate the laws of electric force. Faraday wanted to find the connection between gravity and electricity by experiment. He started from the assumption that in the case of such a connection there would have to be something in gravity which would correspond to the dual or antithetic nature of the forms of force in electricity and magnetism.
He was clear that, if such duality were real, "no word could exaggerate the importance of the relationships thus established". In fact, this importance would be quite extraordinary; for gravity would then appear as a force variable under certain conditions, and such proof would be more important to science than any discovery. Faraday's attempts did not produce positive results, but they did not shake his firm belief in such relationships. It is therefore deeply regrettable that Faraday did not examine these relationships where they are clearly to be found: in the levitation phenomena of occultism.
In 1872, Tisserand also submitted a treatise to the French Academy: "Sur les mouvements des planetes autour du soleil d'apres la loi electrodynamique de Weber" ("On movements of the planets around the sun according to Weber's electrodynamics law"), in which he applied Weber's electrodynamic law to the movements of the planets instead of Newton's gravitational law. He showed that the planetary movements can be explained by Weber's law as well as by Newton's law and that the latter is included as a special case in Weber's law.
In more recent times, Zöllner has again adapted this thought and says "that Weber's law is beginning to unveil the human mind as a universal law of nature, which dominates both the movements of the stars and those of the elements of matter.... The movements of the celestial bodies can be represented as well by the law Weber found for electricity within the limits of our observation as by the Newtonian law. But now that Newton's law is included as a special case in Weber's work. . . ... then, according to the rules of a rational induction, Weber's law would have to be assumed instead of the Newtonian law for the interaction of stationary and moving material particles".
In a recent study "On a Possible Extension of Newton's Gravitational Law", Dr. A. Föppl also developed similar views, saying "that all masses of the same sign attract according to Newton's Gravitational Law, but masses of the opposite sign must repel according to the same law. . . If, for example, we observe that the movements of a binary star obey Newton's law, it could only be concluded that both stars contain masses of the same sign; it would have to remain undecided, however, whether these masses are of the same or opposite nature to those of our solar system. That the repulsion of two cosmic bodies has not yet occurred in our experience is explained by the fact that such bodies are driven apart by the force acting between them when they come close to each other by chance.
If gravity is an electrical phenomenon, it must also be modifiable and polarizable by magnetic and electrical factors. This is shown by the mineral magnet, which is able to neutralize gravity. Gravity depends on the density, on the cohesion of the parts - and this cohesion itself would then only be bonded electrical energy. The hypothesis that the attraction of the planets by the sun is an electrical attraction would increase in probability if the attraction that Newton attributes to the Moon and that produces the phenomenon of the tide could also be represented electrically; and in fact a bulbous elevation of a liquid takes place when we approach it with an amber that is rubbed and thus made electrical.
This hypothesis would become even more probable if the phenomenon of electrical repulsion in the solar system could also be proven. This is the case with comet tails. The comet nucleus as a dripping liquid mass is under the influence of gravity and Kepler's laws for the movements of celestial bodies also apply to it. Conversely, however, the comet tails, i.e. the vapours developed at the nucleus, behave. They do not gravitate against the sun, but are repelled by it, so that they follow the line that we think the sun draws towards the comet nucleus and we call it radius vector.
As is well known, atomizing liquids are electrically excited; we may therefore assume that the vapours developed from the comet nucleus under the influence of solar heat will also be electrically excited. Now that electricity of the same charge repel each other, the turning away of the comet's tail from the sun would be explained by the similarity of the two electrical charges. As the comet approaches the sun as it passes through perihelion, however, the boiling process on the comet's surface would penetrate to ever greater depths, and the admixture of further chemical substances could change the sign of the electric comet vapours, i.e. an electrical charge unlike that of the sun would occur.
Under such circumstances - the universality of the earthly laws always presupposed - a comet tail would have to show up, which would be directed against the sun and would be electrically attracted like the core itself. From this, Zöllner explains the phenomenon that the comet of 1823 had two tails, one turned towards the sun, and the other turned away, forming an angle of 160° between them.
Therefore, by investigating a cosmic phenomenon we are entitled to make a conjecture that gravitation is identical to electrical attraction, and that by changing the electrical sign, gravitation can be transformed into levitation, and vice versa. For the natural sciences, this gives rise to the possibility of changing and cancelling the weight of material bodies under certain circumstances. If natural science would succeed in researching the conditions of such a phenomenon and in technically instilling this new insight into the secrets of nature, the whole life of mankind would be revolutionized in a way that has never happened before due to any discovery. Faraday's assumption that gravity has the antithetical nature to electricity would prove that we could grasp it and, at a blow, the levitation phenomena happen in occultism would be liberated from their paradoxical coating.
The mineral magnet, which pulls a piece of iron lying on the table up into the air, i.e. nullifies the law of gravity, is scientifically understandable only under the condition that gravity is antithetic in its nature. The tails of comets, however, which sometimes turn towards the sun, sometimes turn away from it, prove that gravity can change into levitation under legitimate conditions, and vice versa.
Natural science, even though it has recited the word "development", which philosophy has spoken to it, always makes the mistake of underestimating its own capacity for development. As soon as a new insight is gained, one hurries to interpret it as a final one that does not permit an exception, and moves on to further progress. Today, for example, the levitation phenomena of occultism are denied and declared impossible on the basis of the gravitational principle, without taking into account the fact that although there are mathematical and logical impossibilities, in physics everything depends on experiment. In this, however, the a priori assertion of impossibility could only be made by someone who is omniscient.
Newton was different, of course, because he was a keen thinker. Never before has a discovery been made of such enormous spatial scope, i.e. of such great spatial extent of the world scene it explained, as that of Newton's gravitation. A law, ruling on one of the most insignificant bodies of the world, was transferred to the Milky Way and the most distant nebulae, whose light takes millions of years to reach us. But Newton in particular was very far from underestimating the developmental potential of science, which is usually based only on an exaggeration of the individual representative.
On his deathbed he said: "I do not know what I may appear to posterity some day; but I feel myself as if I had been a boy playing on the seashore, and to my delight now and then I found a smoother pebble and a more beautiful shell than others, while the great ocean of truth laid before me unexplored". This great, unexplored ocean still lies before us - and only then will the greater discoveries of future centuries be possible if we consider the great ones of the past and those of our own time as smooth pebbles or shells.
As long as the natural science remains caught in the prejudice generated by the habit of seeing an unchangeable power in the force of gravity in the body, it cannot even come up with the mere idea of searching for laws under which gravity is nullified, and it will deny that levitation is possible. But the more it realizes that we know the law of gravity, but that the cause of gravity is still a great mystery, the more it will give out this judgment and a great obstacle to progress will then be removed. If the natural science would not position itself in the light and stay outside the very area where it could find the phenomena of levitation in abundance, it would become much closer to solving one of the most important problems as it is today.
Professor Babinet has said: "The one who would succeed against all odds in lifting a table or any other resting body into the air and keeping it floating there could flatter himself to have made the most important of all the discoveries of the century. Newton is immortal because of his discovery of general gravity; whoever could remove a body from gravity without mechanical means would have done even greater things."
Babinet is absolutely right in his estimation of such a discovery. But he is wrong to claim that it is against all possibility. He, too, confuses law and cause of gravity. If we knew nothing at all about this cause, then the edict that levitation is impossible would be completely illogical. If, however, gravity can be derived from the basic electrical law, then levitation is even more possible. Laws are unchangeable, but causes are changeable as soon as we discover the power with which they can be changed. Babinet is so accustomed to the concept of gravity because, without thinking about it, he sees it as something bound to matter. But two hundred years ago Huyghens already warned against this view when he said: "Nature has those means and ways by which it causes all so-called heavy bodies to rush towards the earth, so much enveloped in shadow and darkness that all diligence and acumen have so far been unable to uncover their trails. This circumstance has persuaded the philosophers to look for the cause of this wonderful phenomenon in the bodies themselves, in an inner quality inherent in their being, which they can aspire downwards, towards the centre of the earth, as it were in a tendency and urge of the parts to unite with the whole. This does not mean, however, to reveal causes, but to establish causes, which are unclear and cannot be understood by any human being."
"The bodies are heavy": this is the language of non-science which adheres to the first fact that we perceive the bodies as heavy. We transfer an activity into the bodies, because in their urge to move downwards they only passively obey the attraction of the earth. If gravity belonged to the very concept of matter, it would have to be unchangeable, which it is not; for man, transferred to the moon, would have only one sixth of his earthly weight, while on the sun he would increase enormously in weight. The heaviness, because it is caused externally and alternately, does not therefore belong to the concept of matter. Thus any objection to the possibility of levitation falls, and any day could bring the discovery of how a material body can be withdrawn from the center of its attraction by an opposing force.
Levitation is not only possible, it is real. Thousands of people have already convinced themselves about it, including researchers who have carried out exact experiments. So it is appropriate for natural science to study the field of occultism, where this force is active, to observe its behavior and, by changing its conditions of activity, to study the law of its activity. This would be a scientific procedure. I am therefore in favor for the alliance between physics and occultism, which is in their joint interest. If all the occultists were excellent physicists, it could not be that factual material about levitation has been collected for decades without any attempt to explain it; and I, though I have my College of Physics behind me, would not need to stop at this point and leave the rest to the physicists.
If, on the other hand, all physicists were excellent occultists, a very fruitful argument about the causes of the phenomena would take the place instead of the completely fruitless dispute, where some speak of facts, while others speak of the impossibility of these facts. The physicists would soon realize that a wealth of new insights could be gained from occultism, and that a problem could be solved by researching levitation in particular, a problem that surpasses all other problems in its importance.
 Isenkrahe: The riddle of gravity.
 Newton: Principia III
 Zöllner: Explanation of universal gravitation from the static effects of electricity. - Zöllner: Scientific treatises I. 417-459.
 Faraday: Experimental studies on electricity. In German by Kalischer. III. § 2702-2717.
 Proceedings. 30. Sept. 1872.
 Zöllner: Nature of comets. 70. 127. 128.
 Proceedings of the mathematical physical division of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. 1897th Volume 1.
 Zöllner: Scientific papers. II. 2. 638-640.
 Brewster: Life of Newton 338.
 Review of both worlds. 1854. 530.
 Huygens: Dissertatio de causa gravitatis (Lat., Dissertation on the causes of gravity).