Mercury: The Solar System's Ground State

October 12, 2020

Charles deAnne, "The Matterhorn Paradox"

Of all analogous properties between atomic electron orbits and gravitational orbits, none appear to be more precise than the observation that atoms have well defined minimum orbital radii, each a simple function of the fine structure constant.

Mercury occupies the minimum orbital radius in the Solar System:

The following published values were used in the above equations.

Product of Gravitational constant and mass of the Sun:

Fine Structure constant:

Speed of light:

Since specific gravitational potential energy is given by -GMcentral body/R, and Mercury occupies the minimum orbital radius of the Solar System, it appears that the minimum potential energy per unit planet mass of any gravitational orbital system is independent of the central mass:

Mercury's ancient history

Mercury, both the element and the planet, were known to ancient civilizations. Liquid Mercury has been found in 3,500-year-old Egyptian tombs.

Scarcer than uranium, Mercury constitutes only 0.5 ppm of the Earth's crust and is rarely found in liquid state. The presence of liquid Mercury in tombs indicate it was most likely mined and refined from cinnabar, the mercury sulfide ore. Cinnabar, in spite of being highly toxic, was used by Paleolithic painters to decorate caves in Spain and France 30,000 years ago. (Royal Society of Chemistry)

The name, 'Mercury', has been passed down from antiquity for the element, the planet, and the wing-footed Roman god, presumably for their shared reputation for speed. Mercury is the fastest planet in the solar system, and the element, nicknamed 'quick-silver', has a high surface tension which forms slippery droplets that evade capture.

Yet, there is another commonality between the planet and the element- one that might suggest ancient humans were more enlightened than we usually assume. The finding presented here demonstrates that Mercury's orbit represents the maximum centrifugal acceleration that can be balanced by Sun's gravity- in effect defining the maximum force per kilogram planet mass that can be exerted by the Sun. Mercury's centrifugal force might be imagined to be the tensile strength of the space between the Sun and the planet.

This is reminiscent of an earlier paradigm shift, when we came to understand that the tensile strength of the vacuum is exactly zero- that it is not the vacuum that pulls a column of Mercury to a height of almost 30 inches, but rather the weight of the atmosphere that pushes it up.

Perhaps we will someday view the centrifugal force of the planet Mercury, not as the tensile force of the vacuum, but rather as a measure of gravitational pressure in our region of the Cosmos.

Is it possible that ancient humans used both the element Mercury and the planet Mercury as barometers; one measuring air pressure, the other gravitational pressure?