Another Letter

[From Bruce Abbott (951120.1220 EST)]

Bill Powers (951119.1930 MST) --

That mysterious letter you published was certainly an eye opener as to the
way science actually works. The following letter recently discovered among
Newton's papers may shed additional light on this process. It apparently
predates your letter by several years, as Newton is at this time referred to
simply as "Mr. Newton."

Mr. Isaac Newton
Trinity College
Cambridge, England

Dear Mr. Newton:

We regret to inform you that you paper, "A Theory of Objects in Motion," has
been rejected for publication in the _Proceedings of the Royal Society_.
While the new theory described in your article is provocative and clearly
worth developing further, two of our reviewers were very concerned with your
introduction of "gravity" as the key explanatory concept for bodies falling
toward the Earth, pendulum motion, and planetary orbits. As you must be
aware, this notion implies a mysterious ability of objects to influence each
other from considerable distances through empty space. Our reviewers felt
that the introduction of such a notion into your otherwise excellent
analysis fatally damages your theory, for it represents a return to
mysticism, which modern science has rejected.

All your fine efforts are not necessarily lost, however. Both reviewers
suggested ways in which you might eliminate this flawed concept of "action
at a distance" by substituting physical interactions that would be
consistent with your theory. Reviewer A's suggestion that there might be
invisibly fine elastic threads connecting any two gravitationally attracted
bodies seems particularly worth your attention; perhaps you can think of
other mechanisms that might serve a similar function.

A second serious problem raised by our reviewers also concerns your concept
of "gravity." You wish to "explain" the attraction of two bodies for one
another by reference to this concept but, as our reviewers note, "gravity"
is just a name for the fact that two bodies attract; it is not an
explanation. Your use of this concept is like saying that girders make a
bridge stronger by "reinforcing" it. Of course, the further development
suggested above would fill that gap in your theory with a physical mechanism
while eliminating its troublesome metaphysical aspect. As it stands, your
theory more resembles the philosopher's explanation for the association of
ideas (with its mystical appeal to unseen "associative connections" in the
mind) than a truly scientific proposal.

We do hope you will consider modifying your theory in light of our
suggestions; if you can satisfy our reviewers' objections, we would be
delighted to reconsider your manuscript. Toward this end, I have attached
the reviewers' comments.

Your humble servant,

Bradsworth Hawlings, Esq.

Attachments: Comments from Reviewers A and B