There's always knowledge that is lost to history. We will never know every single detail that will answer every question and that's the burden of every thinking creature in existence. We take solace in the journey that we may never reach the destination. That's just how life is at times. But sometimes you stumble onto something and you have trouble letting go of it.
Recently, I found a bit of information on a teacher and scientist named Alphonse Pitner, who may have contributed to a few textbooks back in his day, and was a fairly influential vocational school teacher in his hometown. Pitner was also known to have developed or discover a formula that answers the question of "what is gravity?", and if he was right about his conclusion who really knows what else the real extent to what might have been changed.
I was only able to find three articles about Mr. Pitner, and only two of them talk about his elusive formula. I wonder though whatever became of him. He seems to have dropped off the face of the planet. I may dig into some academic archives to see if I can find any other information on him. I may also try to find the textbooks he contributed to.
Lebanon Daily News from Lebanon, Pennsylvania · Page 14
Publication: Lebanon Daily News
Location: Lebanon, PennsylvaniaIssue Date: Wednesday, October 31, 1962
"The day when courses in atomic energy meant endless sessions of balancing equations and drawing circles on blackboards is past for 15 students at the Camden County Vocational High School. They are now undergoing a course in nuclear technology so advanced and practical that the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) granted the school a special license, the first awarded to a technical high school, for the purchase and use of radioactive isotopes. The class meets five days a week in a classroom with a gamma ray spectrometer, radiation detectors, a sealer which computes emitted rays and a storage area for the isotopes that is shielded by lead bricks. Poses No Danger But, according to instructor Alphonse Pitner, it is "safer than most classes in chemistry." The isotopes "are as harmless as radium crystals on the face of x watch," he said. "Students handle them with no danger of contamination." Much of the students' work, he pointed out, is using isotopes in powders and liquids in expert-! ments on organic materials such as plants and fertilizer and tracing them through chemical properties. A graduate of LaSalle and Rutgers universities, Pitner, 46, is on« of th« few teachers licensed to handle radioactive isotopes. He was trained at the AEC's Oak ; Ridge Plant in nuclear science' and, last summer, completed a course which enables him to handle the most radioactive of materials. Check Fallout Count His students have become so proficient in th« handling of instruments such as the gamma ray spectrometer that the county civil defense organization asked him to make periodic measurements of the fallout count in the area. "We've been doing this for a year," Pitner said, "and found that Camden County is safe as ;far as the amount of radioactive material in the air." Since-there are 250 industries in the state, and many hospitals, .which use nuclear equipment, a student who completes the course finds it relatively easy to get a job, Pitner said."
April 21, 1973A Publisher Extra Newspaper
Courier-Post from Camden, New Jersey · Page 11
Location: Camden, New JerseyIssue Date: Saturday, April 21, 1973Page:
"The Truth Of the Matter By RON AVERY EVERY ONCE in awhile you meet a man with a "Don Quixote dream" who goes around proclaiming that he has found a' truth and nothing can shake him. ' Christopher Columbus must have been one of those guys. But he was one in a thousand who got the last laugh on the scoffers and cynics. Until I spoke with Alphonse W. Pitner of Medford Lakes, my favorite "Don Quixote" was Michael Leshner, a Levit-town, Pa. engineer. Leshner spent 20 years developing a theory and writing a book. I interviewed him after dozens of publishers had turned him down, and he had just spent $10,000 of his own to have the book published- Are you ready for Leshner's theory? Hold on to your seats. Leshner proclaims that St. Francis of Assisi was really Jewish. He contended 20 years of research proved his theory but admitted that it is based on circumstancial evidence. His strongest piece of evidence was that St. Francis' mother had a Hebrew first name. No publisher was going to stop Leshner from bringing the "truth" to the public. He spent his savings to have his historical novel on St. Francis printed. I SPOKE to him about a year after the printing and the books were still piled high in his basement. He was a bit discouraged but had not lost any faith in his theory. Alphonse W. Pitner is cut out of the same cloth as Michael Leshner. He's a science teacher at Burlington County Vocational School in Mount f Holly and father of 10 kids. For six years he has been working on a problem in physics which has eluded science for 200 years.' p'. f Pitner claims to have found an absolute value for the letter "G" (gravity) which can be used in Newton's law of gravitational force. If his number is correct, it will have great meaning in space travel, measuring heavenly bodies and other applications. It will mean that an unknown South Jersey teacher is one of the great minds of the century. Pitner doesn't say, "I think I found it" or "maybe I'm right." He says he has found "G" beyond a shadow of a doubt. . He says anyone can check his proof and see for himself how simple the whole thing is. He has sent off his theory to several scientists. I SPOKE to one of the physicists who has a. copy of.Pitner's formula. He begged me not to quote him. So I won't. He wants to talk to Pitner himself. You . might guess that he thinks Pitner's formula is off base. You can't help pulling for guys like Alphonse Pitner and Michael Leshner. You have to admire their stubborn determination and unshakeable faith. There's a slim chance that "Chris-topher Columbus" might be an obscure little guy from Levittown or Medford Lakes. "
May 29, 1973
A Publisher Extra Newspaper
Asbury Park Press from Asbury Park, New Jersey · Page 5
Publication: Asbury Park Press
Location: Asbury Park, New JerseyIssue Date: Tuesday, May 29, 1973
Page: Page 5
"Someday, high school physics students may refer to his equation as "the Pitner Formula." Astronauts may use his work to determine, once and for all, whether the universe is expanding or contracting. Physics books may be rewritten in the light of his discovery. But today, Alphonse Pitner is a vocational education teacher hammering on the door of the "physics establishment'1 with what he says is the first new look at the Law of Gravity since Sir Isaac Newton observed a falling apple 300 years (ago. azzzzz "It may take 10 years. I may not live to see it. But someday, they'll come back to this formula," said Mr. Pitner, a teacher of mathematics, physics, and chemistry at the Burlington County Vocational Technical High School. His formula, developed through dimensional analysis produces an absolute value of gravity, an elusive value other physicists have only been able to approach imprecisely through complicated mechanical experiments. Mr. Pitncr's value for absolute gravity is 6.67378 times 10 to the minus eighth power. , ; That may not mean much in practical terms except that the closest science has been able to get to an absolute value for the force of gravity through experimental means is accurate only within three decimal places or approximately half a per cent. "But even more important this is a formula, not just an isolated, approximate value," Mr. Pitner said enthusiastically as he leafed through a 23-page booklet printed at the school to explain his discovery. Mr. Pitner began work on the formula in 1966, sparked by an experimental discovery by Dr. H. R. Clark of the IRA Link BELFAST, Northern Ireland Wl An unexpected alliance of the Irish Republican Army's rival wings in Londonderry threatens a summer of heightened unrest in Northern Ireland's second largest city. Leaders of the IRA's leftist Official faction and its nationalist Provisional wing met during the weekend with representatives of nonviolent nationalist groups and asso- Monmouth and cean MAGAZINE On Newsstands 50 cents Subscript ions: $3.00 per year M?8?K8 ....11,1.1 ,, ... - shows that more than just miles separates the buildings of Princeton University from the halls of a Central New Jersey Vocational High School. "We face a serious problem with this sort of thing," said Dr, Dicke, to whom two copies' of the equation have been sent. "We get these things by the hundreds and I can't even find one copy of it now." "These things" are formulas and theories sent in by "amateurs" for professional study, Dr. Dicke explained. "Usually they just pile up on my desk for a couple of months until the stack is about two feet tall and then I just throw them out." if the formula had been referred to Dr. Dicke by a scientific journal, he conceded, he could review and comment on it 'in about a week." Told of Mr. Pitncr's charge that "professional snobbery" may cost the field of physics and the 'world a valuable advance, Dr. Dicke sounded surprised. "I didn't realize he was so up tight about this," he said. "I would be glad to review it if he'll send me another copy. He may not like what I have to say because it may all be just utter nonsense. but I'll write him my comments." Mr. Pitner suggested that several famous physicists may have their own reasons for not commenting on his formula. "Their method will never discover a formula for absolute gravity only a value," he said. "In tneir hearts they know this. And it makes sense. Some of the greatest minds in the world nave been using their method for hundreds of years and they have failed." Then how did a vocational education teacher apparently succeed where so many giants have failed? By searching for the value of gravity in the heart of the universe the atom. "The experts say that gravity is too weak there but the force is there, and we can find it," he said. "It makes more' sense than using sledge-hammer experiments on one tiny planet to try to find a universal constant." The dispute, then, is really whether Mr. Pitner's "intuitive leap" is valid. But academic tempests have brewed in much smaller teapots. "I think he's using mathematical tricks he has no right using," said Dr. Joseph File, a staff physicist at tne Plasma Physics Laboratory of Princeton universuys Forrestal Campus. "It looks as if this guy has taken some constants and gotten them into a form so he could use known facts and mathematics to solve for absolute gravity," Dr. File said after reviewing the formula. "This can only be done by experiment," he added firmly, echoing the traditional viewpoint Mr. Pitner is trying to shake. Mr. Pitner has authored 15 teaching texts in the fields of mathematics, " traditional physics and chemistry, and wrote the textbooks he uses in his classes at the voca-.tional school. He has studied the uses , of radioisotopes through grants from the National Science ' Inundation and Oak Ridge Institute, and was one of the first teachers in the country to establish a nuclear1 training, station in vocational technical schools. "There was no hint that I wasn't qualified before," he said. "But now that my work is challenging the work of the big names In the field. I'm called 'an amateur' who is 'playing a numbers game.' On Christmas Day of 1972 Mr. Pitner completed his work on the formula and 1 began his work on gaining acceptance , and recognition for what he feels is a scientific breakthrough. Copies of the equation booklet have been sent to schools all over the country, to engineers, to industrial physicists, and to government scientists in hopes of getting some professional confirmation. "But no one will be the first to endorse it," he said after months of waiting. "Industrial physicists all say privately; that the formula works 'but one told me I'll never get the academic..."