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CS_Ch5_Predictions

2/24/05

8:08 PM

Page 260

Patterns and Predictions

Physics Words
acceleration: the change
in velocity per unit time.
gravity: the force of
attraction between two
bodies due to their
masses.
Inverse square relation:
the relationship of a force
to the inverse square of
the distance from the
mass (for gravitational
forces) or the charge (for
electrostatic forces).

7. Light intensity decreases with distance as the light from the


source spreads out over larger areas. The light is literally
spread thin. The light intensity at any one spot increases as
the area gets smaller and decreases as it gets larger. This
observation is an example of a pattern called the inverse
square relation. In an inverse square relation, if you double the
1
1
distance the light becomes 22 or 4 as bright. If you
1
1
triple the distance, the light becomes 32 or 9 as bright.
If you increase the distance by 5 times, the light becomes
1
1
2 , or
25 as bright. If you increase the distance by 10 times,
5
1
1
the light becomes 102 , or 100 times as bright.
a) How closely does your data reflect an inverse square
relation?
Acceleration Due to
the Earths Gravitational Field at Different Heights
Height above
Sea Level (km)

Acceleration due
to Gravity (m/s2)

0
3.1
11
160
400 (Shuttle orbit)
1600
8000
16,000
36,000 (geosynchronous orbit for
communications satellite)
385,000 (orbit of the Moon)

9.81
9.76
9.74
9.30
8.65
6.24
1.92
0.79
0.23
0.003

8. Compute the distances from the center of the Earth


(6400 km below sea level). Plot these distances vs.
acceleration in a graph. Draw the best possible curve through
the points on the graph. Label this graph Graph 2.
a) Does the data form a pattern?
b) Is the pattern familiar to you? Give evidence for your
conclusion.
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