<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
  • Explain Earth’s gravitational force.
  • Describe the gravitational effect of the Moon on Earth.
  • Discuss weightlessness in space.
  • Examine the Cavendish experiment

What do aching feet, a falling apple, and the orbit of the Moon have in common? Each is caused by the gravitational force. Our feet are strained by supporting our weight—the force of Earth’s gravity on us. An apple falls from a tree because of the same force acting a few meters above Earth’s surface. And the Moon orbits Earth because gravity is able to supply the necessary centripetal force at a distance of hundreds of millions of meters. In fact, the same force causes planets to orbit the Sun, stars to orbit the center of the galaxy, and galaxies to cluster together. Gravity is another example of underlying simplicity in nature. It is the weakest of the four basic forces found in nature, and in some ways the least understood. It is a force that acts at a distance, without physical contact, and is expressed by a formula that is valid everywhere in the universe, for masses and distances that vary from the tiny to the immense.

Sir Isaac Newton was the first scientist to precisely define the gravitational force, and to show that it could explain both falling bodies and astronomical motions. See [link] . But Newton was not the first to suspect that the same force caused both our weight and the motion of planets. His forerunner Galileo Galilei had contended that falling bodies and planetary motions had the same cause. Some of Newton’s contemporaries, such as Robert Hooke, Christopher Wren, and Edmund Halley, had also made some progress toward understanding gravitation. But Newton was the first to propose an exact mathematical form and to use that form to show that the motion of heavenly bodies should be conic sections—circles, ellipses, parabolas, and hyperbolas. This theoretical prediction was a major triumph—it had been known for some time that moons, planets, and comets follow such paths, but no one had been able to propose a mechanism that caused them to follow these paths and not others.

The figure shows a graphic image of a person sitting under a tree carefully looking toward an apple falling from the tree above him. There is a view of a river behind him and an image of the Sun in the sky.
According to early accounts, Newton was inspired to make the connection between falling bodies and astronomical motions when he saw an apple fall from a tree and realized that if the gravitational force could extend above the ground to a tree, it might also reach the Sun. The inspiration of Newton’s apple is a part of worldwide folklore and may even be based in fact. Great importance is attached to it because Newton’s universal law of gravitation and his laws of motion answered very old questions about nature and gave tremendous support to the notion of underlying simplicity and unity in nature. Scientists still expect underlying simplicity to emerge from their ongoing inquiries into nature.

The gravitational force is relatively simple. It is always attractive, and it depends only on the masses involved and the distance between them. Stated in modern language, Newton’s universal law of gravitation    states that every particle in the universe attracts every other particle with a force along a line joining them. The force is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.

Questions & Answers

kinetic functional force
Moyagabo Reply
what is a principal wave?
Haider Reply
A wave the movement of particles on rest position transferring energy from one place to another
not wave. i need to know principal wave or waves.
principle wave is a superposition of wave when two or more waves meet at a point , whose amplitude is the algebraic sum of the amplitude of the waves
kindly define principal wave not principle wave (principle of super position) if u can understand my question
what is a model?
Ella Reply
why are electros emitted only when the frequency of the incident radiation is greater than a certain value
b/c u have to know that for emission of electron need specific amount of energy which are gain by electron for emission . if incident rays have that amount of energy electron can be emitted, otherwise no way.
search photoelectric effect on Google
what is ohm's law
Pamilerin Reply
states that electric current in a given metallic conductor is directly proportional to the potential difference applied between its end, provided that the temperature of the conductor and other physical factors such as length and cross-sectional area remains constant. mathematically V=IR
A body travelling at a velocity of 30ms^-1 in a straight line is brought to rest by application of brakes. if it covers a distance of 100m during this period, find the retardation.
Pamilerin Reply
just use v^2-u^2=2as
how often does electrolyte emits?
just use +€^3.7°√π%-4¢•∆¥%
v^2-u^2=2as v=0,u=30,s=100 -30^2=2a*100 -900=200a a=-900/200 a=-4.5m/s^2
what is distribution of trade
Grace Reply
what's acceleration
Joshua Reply
The change in position of an object with respect to time
Acceleration is velocity all over time
It's not It's the change of velocity relative to time
Velocity is the change of position relative to time
acceleration it is the rate of change in velocity with time
acceleration is change in velocity per rate of time
what is ohm's law
Ohm's law is related to resistance by which volatge is the multiplication of current and resistance ( U=RI)
acceleration is the rate of change. of displacement with time.
the rate of change of velocity is called acceleration
how i don understand
Willam Reply
how do I access the Multiple Choice Questions? the button never works and the essay one doesn't either
Savannah Reply
How do you determine the magnitude of force
Peace Reply
mass × acceleration OR Work done ÷ distance
Which eye defect is corrected by a lens having different curvatures in two perpendicular directions?
Valentina Reply
acute astigmatism?
the difference between virtual work and virtual displacement
Noman Reply
How do you calculate uncertainties
Ancilla Reply
What is Elasticity
Salim Reply
the property of a body to regain it's original shape is called elasticity. or. the property of a body which can be stretch is called elasticity.
Practice Key Terms 4

Get the best College physics course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'College physics' conversation and receive update notifications?