Mark A. Mandel mamandel at LDC.UPENN.EDU
Sun Dec 19 01:17:07 UTC 2004

Bill Mullins writes:
anti-gravitation (n).  OED doesn't list; OED SF project has 1930.

        [biblio info deleted -- MAM]
        Among the psychological phenomena I have witnessed, none has
appeared to me more curious than a susceptibility of certain minds to become
imbued with a violent antipathy to the theory of gravitation.  The
anti-gravitation crank, as he is commonly called, is a regular part of the
astronomer's experience."

This has nothing to do with the "antigravity" or "anti-gravitation" (which I
would expect to be an older form) of science-fiction, which is a way to
cancel out the effects of gravity. Typically this fictional principle or
force or mechanism or theory is used to support loads, flying vehicles, etc.
In physics it would refer to a force analogous to gravitation but with a
negative value, i.e., repelling rather then attracting mass.

In the above citation "gravitation" refers to the theory of gravitation
rather than the force itself, and the "anti-" refers to emotional or
intellectual opposition rather than physical opposition to or negation of
the force. Since the expression "anti-gravitation crank" comes at the
beginning of a line I noticed and parsed it first; then, on reading the
whole paragraph, I was disappointed to see that it was not, as I had
expected, a reference to "a crank who believes that he has discovered or
created antigravity". THAT would have been an antedate. This is not.

-- Mark A. Mandel
   a Steven Brust Dragaera fan website
   [This text prepared with Dragon NaturallySpeaking.]

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