Scientific Article on Theories of Gravity.

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Scientific Article on Theories of Gravity.

© All Rights Reserved

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Principia Mathematica, 5 July, 1687 The day when the most important work in the history of

Science came into picture. And from there it has been a whole new journey to paint it in a way

that is immensely beautiful. It was indeed a giant leap towards encoding equations behind the

very secrets of nature.

One of them was Newtons Universal law of gravitation. As we all know it simply states that any two

bodies in this universe attract each other with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their

masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Well, but how much we

really understand this law. Why is it always attractive? What is the speed of gravity? Is gravitational mass

equal to inertial mass? Why is the exponent of distance, 2, and not 1.99 or 2.01 or some irrational number?

According to Newton, as theory says, gravity is always attractive since mass is always positive unlike

charges. Now, gravitational mass is something that determines the strength of gravitational force acting

on the body and inertial mass determines its resistance to accelerate when a force is applied on it. In

Newtonian theory, there is universality of free fall. Inertial mass and gravitational mass must, therefore,

be proportional with a proportionality constant that is same for all the bodies. Gravitational mass thus

can be defined to be equal to the inertial mass for one body, say, the standard kilo-gram in Sevres, France.

Newton believed that gravitational fields propagate instantaneously and in no time everywhere. Though

Einstein, in his special theory of relativity (STR), postulated that no interaction in the nature can happen

faster than the speed of light. And it applies to fundamental forces too. That would mean that if Sun

vanishes now, Earth would still be in its orbit for about 8min & 20sec before flying off tangentially. It

sounds unbelievable but thats what should happen theoretically. Speed of gravity has also been

experimentally verified and found to be very near to that of speed of light.

A great advancement in the theory of gravity was the General Theory of Relativity by Einstein in 1915.

It is a geometric theory of gravity and according to it gravitation is not a force but the consequence of the

distortion in the space-time fabric.

But GR does not predict the nature of the gravity. The possibility of even repulsive gravity may arise here

because, according to general relativity, gravitational fields are produced not just by energy or mass

densities, but also by pressures. And so a large negative pressure may cause a repulsive gravity.

A useful starting point in motivating GR was the Equivalence Principle. Einsteins Equivalence principle

is the idea that no experiment can distinguish a uniform acceleration from a uniform gravitational field.

For example, suppose you are inside an isolated elevator that is moving with an acceleration g. Now

suppose you hold out a coin & release it. Since there is no force acting on the coin the relative acceleration

with which the coin and the surface of the elevator will approach each other will be g only. And thus you

as an observer inside the elevator will see the coin falling with an acceleration g. It is the same thing that

you will observe when youll release a coin in a uniform gravitational field of magnitude g. You can never

distinguish between the two situations and thats what this principle says.

Considering again the question of equality of inertial and gravitational mass, infact there is absolutely no

reason why they have to be the same, but according to the best experiments physicists have been able to

perform, they are. Experiments show that all bodies fall with the same acceleration in a gravitational field.

For Einsteins equivalence principle to hold it is necessary that inertial and gravitational masses are exactly

equal. Otherwise, whole general relativity would crumble apart. But fortunately it has not yet.

This equality between inertial mass and gravitational mass is truly remarkable. In Newtonian theory, it

appears as an isolated unexplained experimental fact. However, it is this experimental fact that allows a

geometric theory of gravity and underlies general relativity.

Today, 100 years after GR, we have come a long way along the path of understanding our universe but

still theres a lot & lot more to understand. It has indeed revolutionized how we think about space, time,

mass, energy and gravity. And in the future, GR will continue to shape the efforts of physicists,

cosmologists and astronomers far into the future.

For example, researchers will keep using the theory to gain a better understanding of black holes, neutron

stars and other celestial bodies and phenomena. Scientists will also continue probing the nature of dark

energy and dark matter, in an effort to understand the universe at the broadest scales. Finally, and

perhaps most excitingly, researchers will keep trying to unify general relativity with quantum mechanics,

to marry the world of the very large with that of the very small. This grand and longed-for "theory of

everything" has eluded physicists thus far, but physicists do believe that there must be such a theory.

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