# GR and my journey to the centre of the Earth

That is awesome! And it makes complete sense too! (other than a possible misusage of the word "distance"). Let's have a look at the equations of motion of you in Earth's curved spacetime, assuming that your feet are not touching the ground:

$$\frac{\mathrm d^{2}x^{\mu}}{\mathrm ds^{2}}+\Gamma^{\mu}_{\nu\sigma}(x(s))\ \frac{\mathrm dx^{\nu}}{\mathrm ds}\frac{\mathrm dx^{\sigma}}{\mathrm ds}=0$$ where $x^{\mu}(s)$ is your world line, $s$ is some parameter,

$$\Gamma^{\mu}_{\nu\sigma}=\frac{1}{2}\ g^{\mu\tau}(\partial_{\nu}g_{\sigma\tau}+\partial_{\sigma}g_{\nu\tau}-\partial_{\tau}g_{\sigma\nu})$$ with $g^{\mu\tau}$ the inverse of the metric and $$g=\left( 1 - \frac{r_{s} r}{\rho^{2}} \right) c^{2}\, \mathrm dt^{2} - \frac{\rho^{2}}{\Delta} \mathrm dr^{2} - \rho^{2} \,\mathrm d\theta^{2}+ \\ - \left( r^{2} + \alpha^{2} + \frac{r_{s} r \alpha^{2}}{\rho^{2}} \sin^{2} \theta \right) \sin^{2} \theta \,\mathrm d\phi^{2} + \frac{2r_{s} r\alpha \sin^{2} \theta }{\rho^{2}} \, c \,\mathrm dt \, \mathrm d\phi$$ where $$r_{s}=\frac{2GM}{c^{2}}\ ,\quad\alpha=\frac{J}{Mc} \ ,\quad \rho^{2}=r^{2}+\alpha^{2}\cos^{2}\theta\ ,\quad \Delta=r^{2}-r_{s}r+\alpha^{2}$$ with $M$ and $J$ Earth's mass and angular momentum.

The equations of motion can be derived from the action functional

$$S[x(s)]=-mc\int_{a}^{b}\sqrt{g_{\mu\nu}(x(s))\,\frac{\mathrm dx^{\mu}}{\mathrm ds}\frac{\mathrm dx^{\nu}}{\mathrm ds}}\ \mathrm ds$$ where $m$ is your mass and, as gravity goes, it plays no role at all in how you fall to the ground. You find the equations of motion by minimizing S with respect to the curve $x(s)$, which amounts to minimizing the (proper) time you spend on your worldline, times $-mc^{2}$ (this is why you are minimizing rather than maximizing): \begin{align} S[x(\tau)]&=-mc^{2}\int_\textrm{today}^\textrm{tomorrow}\sqrt{g_{\mu\nu}(x(\tau))\,\frac{\mathrm dx^{\mu}}{\mathrm d\tau}\frac{\mathrm dx^{\nu}}{\mathrm d\tau}}\,\mathrm d\tau\\ &= \text{the distance between today and tomorrow}\,. \end{align} As you'll fall in the direction that connects you to the center of the Earth, the shortest distance between today and tomorrow is indeed through the center of the Earth. The reason why you are sticking to the floor right now is really that the ground is preventing you from taking the shortest path from today to tomorrow, which passes through the center of the Earth.

What GR says is correct: the straight line between, say, London today and London tomorrow is not the curve that spends all the time between in London: whether it actually passes through the centre of the Earth I'm not sure, and it depends on how fast you are moving as well as where you are.

The caveat is that the straight line (geodesic) not the shortest path, it's the longest (there is no shortest path) and the length is proper time.

This not inconsistent with you being able to take other paths: you can, but they are not extrema of length and therefore you experience acceleration on the path: the acceleration which is currently sticking you to the ground, for instance.

It makes sense as a "visual" description.

In GR, free particles with mass move on time-like geodesics. A common description of geodesics are such curves that locally minimalize path length, but this desciption comes from Riemannian geometry, not Lorentzian geometry, which GR is. In Lorentzian geometry, timelike geodesics are those that locally maximalize proper time.

The reason the quote sounds so nonsensical, is that in GR time is also curved, and the geodesics move through space-time, not just space. If the ground was not beneath your feet, you'd fall through the center of the earth, as time would pass, hence you could say that the "path with greatest proper time between today and tomorrow leads through the center of the earth".

But there is a ground beneath your feet, the ground exerts EM force on you that makes you deviate from this geodesic, since you are no longer a "free particle".