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UNIVERSAL GRAVITATION

LAW
ANURAG SHARMA

Galileo realized that a falling body picked up speed at a constant rate


i.e, it had constant acceleration (as he termed it, the word means
addition of speed in Italian). Also, if air resistance and buoyancy
can be neglected, all bodies fall with the same acceleration, bodies of
different weights dropped together reach the ground at the same
time.
He also analyzed the horizontal and
vertical motions of a cannon ball in
flight independently. Whether the
canon ball is dropped or fired its vertical
drop at the end of successive seconds is
same.
Meanwhile, its horizontal motion will be
at a steady speed (neglecting air
resistance), it will go 100 meters in the
first second, another 100 meters in the
next second, and so on. Vertically, it
falls 5 meters in the first second, 20
meters total in two seconds, then 45
and so on.
Galileo drew the graph above of the

the lengths of the vertical lines ci, df, eh


are the vertical distances fallen by
canon ball

Newton analyzed if cannon was put on a really high mountain above the atmosphere and
fired the cannon really fast?
The cannonball would still fall 5 meters in
the first second .
The surface of the earth curves away below
a horizontal line, so if the right speed is
chosen, after 1 sec the cannonball will have
reached a point where the earths surface
itself has dropped away by 5 meters below
the originally horizontal straight line. In that
case, the cannonball wont have lost any
height at all.
So cannonball is still moving horizontally,
or parallel to the earths surface directly
beneath it. And, no speed would have lost as
air resistance is nil, so exactly the same
thing happens in the next second, and the
next.

it therefore goes in a circular path.

As Newton sat under a tree an apple


fell which set him thinking.
If the earth can attract an apple, can
it not attract the moon?
Is the force the same in both cases?
He conjectured that the same type of
force is responsible in both the cases.
He argued that at each point of its
orbit, the moon falls towards the
earth, instead of going off in a
straight line. So, it must be attracted
by the earth.
The motion of the moon around the
earth is due to the centripetal force.
The centripetal force is provided by
the force of attraction of the earth. If
there were no such force, the
A straight line that meets the circle at one
moon would pursue a uniform
and only one point is called a tangent to
straight line
the circle.

Does the apple attract the earth? If so, we do not see the earth moving
towards an apple. Why?
Now similar force exists between the Sun and the planets. From
the above facts Newton concluded that not only does the earth
attract an apple and the moon, but all objects in the universe
attract each other.

The force of attraction is Gravitation Force.


The force is proportional to
the
product
of
their
masses
and
inversely
proportional to the square
of the distance between
them.
The force is along the line
joining the centres of two
objects.


Keplers
laws are:
1. The orbit of a planet is an ellipse with the
Sun at one of the foci, as shown in the figure
given below. In this figure O is the position of
the Sun.
2. The line joining the planet and the Sun
sweep equal areas in equal intervals of time.
Thus, if the time of travel from A to B is the
same as that from C to D, then the areas
OAB and OCD are equal.
3. The cube of the mean distance of a planet
from the Sun is proportional to the square of
its orbital period T. Or,
Assuming that planet moves in circular orbit, the centripetal force,
= a constant
F , v is orbital velocity and r is orbital radius
----------- (1)
Also, v = , T being time period or
Replacing from (2) in (1):

F x x

or F x

-------------- (2)

So, Newton deduced from Keplers law that the Gravitational force,
providing centripetal force to planet to move in circular orbit,
decreases by square of distance i.e if d gets bigger by a factor of
6, F becomes 1/36 times smaller.
the equation, , G is Universal Constant of Gravitation
In
Value of G was found by Henry Cavendish to be

The universal law of gravitation successfully


explained several phenomena which were
believed to be unconnected:
(i) the force that binds us to the earth;
(ii) the motion of the moon around the earth;
(iii) the motion of planets around the Sun; and
(iv) the tides due to the moon and the Sun.

Free

fall

An object of mass m falls on earth with acceleration due to gravity g.


So, the force equation for objects far from earth can be written as:
Where d is the distance between the object and earth. For an object
near or on earth,
We have :

i.e acceleration due to gravity is independent of mass


of the object falling. So, a rock and feather will fall at
the same rate of change of velocity if air resistance is
neglected.
The earth is not a perfect sphere. As the radius of the
earth increases from the poles to the equator, the
value of g becomes greater at the poles than at the
equator.

Calculation of value of g:
We have:
Universal Gravitation Constant,
Mass of Earth,
Radius of Earth,

So,

Mass and Weight


Mass is the measure of inertia of a body. It remains
same irrespective of location of the body in the
universe. SI unit is kg.
Weight of an object on earth is the force by which
earth attracts the object i.e:
SI unit is Newton. The weight is a force acting
vertically downwards; it has both magnitude and
direction. Since g is constant, . So, at a given place,
we can use the weight of an object as a measure of
its mass. Weight depends on location of the body.

Comparison of Weight of
a body of mass m on
earth and moon
Using data in table, weight
of
the body on earth is
given as:

of body on moon:

.. (2)
(2) by (1):

ht of the object on the moon = (1/6) its weight on th