So, what does growing up in eastern Connecticut have to do with gravity? I have to admit there isn't much. There are no big universities or research institutions there. Nobody famous came from that area (as far as I know). The best physical connection I can come up with is admittedly very far-fetched. The area actually has a number of apple orchards, and there is also the famous story about Sir Isaac Newton discovering gravity after an apple fell on his head... Like I said it is a pretty poor connection.
On a more serious note, I can attribute my interest in gravity to some of my childhood friends from that area (who have since moved away). Gazing at the stars with one very close friend of the family certainly made me start questioning "why" and helped kindle an interest in astronomy. Having grown up in a semi-rural area where the stars are visible and where the noise is minimal made things easier. Another friend and I often had very intellectual discussions about the natural world around us. He and I would often discuss philosophy and nature for many hours. Sometimes it was while hiking at night. There is definitely something special about the night that makes one more aware of the larger world out there.
All these interactions with friends certainly had a large influence on who I am today. My parents likewise encouraged me to question nature, be critical of her workings, and to try and understand it on a level I can comprehend. What all this questioning eventually got me was a deep sense of awe for nature, and a realization that even the brightest minds still have not unlocked her secrets yet. I have come to realize that of all the known forces, gravity is the least known in terms of predictions. Planetary motion, black holes, and other phenomena associated with large objects are well known, but when it comes to the small objects, essentially nothing is known. To express it another way, there is no quantum theory of gravity.
I do not claim I will ever understand gravity any more than the thousands of brilliant scientists before me who have pondered the idea. I honestly even doubt I will come close to their understanding. Thankfully I am content gazing up on a clear moonless night and realizing that nature still has the advantage over us! I enjoy learning what I can.
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