"I can tell you that I discovered gravity when I was five years old, Sam. I fell out of a tree."
"I fell on my side and banged my head on the ground. It wasn't the best of falls. But I learned quickly that gravity works."
"That fall may explain why you have such a laconic sense of humor--perhaps your brain was rearranged in the fall."
"Sam, when I was twenty-three I fell off a donkey in Mexico. Donkey crap all over my clothes, humid weather and flies! That told me something about gravity and donkeys. I was so damn mad that I changed my political persuasion. I've been a Republican ever since."
"Sure the donkey didn't kick you in the head?"
"I'd remember if it did--maybe not. After I fell, the donkey wouldn't let me back on the saddle. I took off my shoes and walked barefoot in donkey crap along the path. That smart ass followed me with a swagger and a smile."
"Why were you in Mexico and where?"
"I was on vacation near the Caves of Garcia, a short distance from Monterrey. The donkey path led to a waterfall called The Horse's Tail. I walked to a spot just short of the falls. I couldn't see the falls--so using my best Spanish I asked the Mexican donkey boys for directions. They burst out laughing when they heard my best Spanish."
"What did you say that made them laugh?"
"Donde esta la cola de caballero?"
"What the hell is that?"
"It translates: Where is the gentleman's tail?"
"Ha! I can understand why they laughed at you."
"I guess I got the Spanish word for horse and gentleman mixed up. A horse is caballo."
"So what else do you know about gravity besides falling out of a tree and falling off a donkey?"
"Well, to be truthful, I know as much about gravity as I know about Spanish. I know that Newton got the idea by watching an apple fall from a tree. What's all this about gravity? When did you become a rocket scientist?"
"Yesterday I was watching a young British scientist, Brian Cox, on TV. He said there was something missing about our understanding of gravity."
"What did he mean by that? Is a planet missing?"
"If there is, he didn't mention it. He explained that Einstein thought space and time were united. The closer you get to the speed of light, the more time and space are compressed. He said that's what created the effect of gravity. I was impressed."
"Did you fully understand it?"
"I don't either. So why should this be the number one topic of discussion in this Cortland diner so early in the morning? It doesn't pay the bills. Besides, my eggs and toast are getting cold."
"I'll tell you why. It made me curious. How many times have you heard an educated person say, 'Think outside the box?'"
"I haven't been in a classroom for over 50 years, Sam. Besides, that's what my dentist tells me to do when I say I don't have enough money to pay him. 'Think outside the box.'"
"But Einstein was right about gravity, George. It has something to do with space-time."
"You won't hear me argue with Einstein."
"Neither will I. Einstein added a new concept to Newton's formula for gravity."
"Do you know Newton's formula?"
"No, can't say I do. But I understand it and I think I can explain it. You see, it's a basic concept of physical attraction. Take two bodies consisting of mass--like me and my wife. I'm skinny and she's fat. I'll whisper this to you so no one else can hear: women don't appreciate it when you talk about their weight. I swear my wife weighs twice as much as I do. She was heavier than I was when we got married, would you believe it?"
"I won't touch that one."
"It's because she's so much heavier than I am that I'm attracted to her. It makes scientific sense. A large mass attracts a small mass. That's Newton's theory in a nutshell."
"I don't think Newton or Einstein would subscribe to your interpretation."
"Sam, the only thing that makes scientific sense now is that my breakfast is moving toward absolute zero. I'm going to eat now, if you don't mind, before my eggs turn into ice."
How Gravity Really Works--YouTube