The Newtonian model of gravity in which the force between two objects is given by GMm/r^2.

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Does Earth really have two high-tide bulges on opposite sides?

The bit that makes sense – tidal forces My physics teacher explained that most tidal effect is caused by the moon rotating around the Earth, and some also by the Sun. They said that in the Earth and ...
78
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8answers
15k views

Don't heavier objects actually fall faster because they exert their own gravity?

The common understanding is that, setting air resistance aside, all objects dropped to Earth fall at the same rate. This is often demonstrated through the thought experiment of cutting a large object ...
58
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7answers
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Does juggling balls reduce the total weight of the juggler and balls?

A friend offered me a brain teaser to which the solution involves a $195$ pound man juggling two $3$-pound balls to traverse a bridge having a maximum capacity of only $200$ pounds. He explained that ...
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4answers
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Moon's pull causes tides on far side of Earth: why?

I have always wondered and once I even got it, but then completely forgot. I understand that gravity causes high and low tides in oceans, but why does it occur on the other side of Earth?
48
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5answers
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Is there a small enough planet or asteroid you can orbit by jumping?

I just had this idea of orbiting a planet just by jumping and then flying upon it on its orbit kind of like superman. So, Would it be theoretically possible or is there a chance of that small body to ...
41
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7answers
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Why is the Earth so fat?

I made a naive calculation of the height of Earth's equatorial bulge and found that it should be about 10km. The true height is about 20km. My question is: why is there this discrepancy? The ...
38
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6answers
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Pouring water in an aircraft while upside down?

What is the physics behind the following photo? Someone had told me that this is because the aircraft might be moving towards a lower altitude, but I am still not sure.
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7answers
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Are we slightly lighter during the day and slightly heavier at night, owing to the force of the Sun's gravity?

Using $g = \frac{Gm}{r^2}$, the force on a point mass located at 1 AU from the Sun ($m = 2 \cdot 10^{30} \text{ kg}$) is about ~0.006 N/kg. Does that mean that, e.g., a 70 kg person is ~42g lighter ...
32
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2answers
733 views

How trustworthy are numerically-obtained periodic solutions to the three body problem?

I recently found out about the discovery of 13 beautiful periodic solutions to the three-body problem, described in the paper Three Classes of Newtonian Three-Body Planar Periodic Orbits. Milovan ...
26
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5answers
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Which ball touches the ground first?

This is a very well known problem, but I can't find an answer in the specific case I'm looking for. Let's consider two balls : Ball 1 weighs 10 kg Ball 2 weighs 1 kg Balls have identical volumes ...
26
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4answers
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What are the precise statements by Shouryya Ray of particle dynamics problems posed by Newton which this news article claims have been solved?

This recent news article (here is the original, in German) says that Shouryya Ray, who moved to Germany from India with his family at the age of 12, has baffled scientists and mathematicians by ...
23
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8answers
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Why doesn't the Moon fall upon Earth?

Why doesn't the Moon, or for that matter anything rotating another larger body, ever fall into the larger body?
23
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4answers
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Would you be weightless at the center of the Earth?

If you could travel to the center of the Earth (or any planet), would you be weightless there?
23
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6answers
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Why do heavier objects fall faster in air?

We all know that in an idealised world all objects accelerate at the same rate when dropped regardless of their mass. We also know that in reality (or more accurately, in air) a lead feather falls ...
22
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1answer
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Why does it take so long to get to the ISS?

I don't understand why when first launched Space X's Dragon capsule had to orbit the Earth many times in order to match up with the ISS? Was this purely to match it's speed, or to get closer (as in ...
21
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3answers
3k views

Has gravity ever been experimentally measured between two atoms?

Has there been any experiments, or are there any references, demonstrating gravity between atoms? If so, what are the key experiments/papers? Or if not, what is the smallest thing that has actually ...
21
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3answers
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Why does the moon face earth with the same side?

I know that the rotation period of the moon equals its revolution period. It's just so astonishing that these 2 values have such a small difference. I mean, what is the probability of these 2 values ...
18
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4answers
747 views

Staying in orbit - but doesn't any perturbation start a positive feedback?

I am not a physicist; I am a software engineer. While trying to fall asleep recently, I started thinking about the following. There are many explanations online of how any object stays in orbit. The ...
18
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3answers
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How is gravity consistent when you split an object into multiple pieces?

Here's the picture: In picture 1: Assume that we have 2 objects, namely A, and B. Object A with mass $2M$, and object B with mass $m$; and their distance is $r$. Then the gravitational force of A ...
18
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1answer
823 views

How can the Moon have such a strong effect on the ocean?

The gravitational acceleration on Earth is approximately $ 10 \mathrm{m}/\mathrm{s}^2 $. Compared to this, the tidal effect of the Moon's gravity gives a local variation in the acceleration of ...
17
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3answers
306 views

Comparing predictions and reality for the gravitational attraction due to light beams

While doing some on-the-side reading, I stumbled across this question: Do two beams of light attract each other in general theory of relativity?. Great question and a great, easily understandable ...
16
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9answers
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Why are orbits elliptical?

Almost all of the orbits of planets and other celestial bodies are elliptical, not circular. Is this due to gravitational pull by other nearby massive bodies? If this was the case a two body system ...
16
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5answers
911 views

Does a magnetically suspended frog feel weightless?

Magnetic levitation has been used to suspend frogs in midair. I was wondering: Does the animal still feel gravitational pull? I mean: Does the frog feel like an astronaut on the ISS, or does he feel ...
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5answers
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Can Helium Disappear from Earth?

Can Helium disappear? As we know Helium is lighter than air, so basically Helium fly off from Earth. Is it possible that in the future we will run out Helium?
15
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10answers
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Why do space crafts take off with rockets instead of just ascending like an aircraft until they reach space?

I guess it's not a very educated question, but I never quite understood why spacecrafts have to shoot up and can't just reach space by simply continuing an upwards ascent like an airplane.
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4answers
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Why are so many forces explainable using inverse squares when space is three dimensional?

It seems paradoxical that the strength of so many phenomena (Newtonian gravity, Coulomb force) are calculable by the inverse square of distance. However, since volume is determined by three ...
15
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4answers
640 views

Anti-gravity in an infinite lattice of point masses

Another interesting infinite lattice problem I found while watching a physics documentary. Imagine an infinite square lattice of point masses, subject to gravity. The masses involved are all $m$ and ...
15
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2answers
873 views

Is Newton's universal gravitational constant the inverse of permittivity of mass in vacuum?

Is it possible to consider Newton's universal gravitational constant, $G$, as inverse of vacuum permittivity of mass? $$\epsilon_m=\frac {1}{4\pi G}$$ if so, then vacuum permeability of mass will ...
14
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13answers
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Why do we say that the earth moves around the sun?

In history we are taught that the Catholic Church was wrong, because the Sun does not move around the Earth, instead the Earth moves around the Sun. But then in physics we learn that movement is ...
14
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5answers
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A force opposing Gravity

Every Action Has An Equal and Opposite Reaction (Newton's Third Law.) If this is the case, does gravity have an equal-opposing force? From asking around I still haven't got a very clear answer; ...
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5answers
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Why do we always see the same side of the Moon? [duplicate]

I am puzzled why we always see the same side of the Moon even though it is rotating around its own axis apart from revolving around the earth. Shouldn't this only be possible if the Moon is not ...
14
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3answers
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Why are Saturn's rings so thin?

Take a look at this picture (from APOD http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110308.html): I presume that rocks within rings smash each other. Below the picture there is a note which says that Saturn's rings ...
14
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2answers
333 views

Newtonian gravity from the holographic principle?

Can one understand Newton's law of gravitation using the holographic principle (or does such reasoning just amount to dimensional analysis)? Following an argument similar to one given by Erik ...
13
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Why are these periods the same: a low earth orbit and oscillations through the center of the earth?

Related: Why does earth have a minimum orbital period? I was learning about GPS satellite orbits and came across that Low Earth Orbits (LEO) have a period of about 88 minutes at an altitude of 160 ...
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Is Melancholia's orbit impossible?

In the 2011 movie Melancholia, a planet, also called Melancholia, enters the solar system and hits the Earth. I want to leave aside the (also unreasonable) aspect that planet "hides behind the Sun" ...
13
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6answers
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Is Newton's Law of Gravity consistent with General Relativity?

By 'Newton's Law of Gravity', I am referring to The magnitude of the force of gravity is proportional to the product of the mass of the two objects and inversely proportional to their distance ...
13
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1answer
798 views

James Webb Space Telescope's halo orbit at Lagrange point L2

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is expected to be launched in 2018 and operate in the L2 vicinity, about 1.5 million km from Earth. It will be placed in a halo orbit around the unstable L2 ...
12
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7answers
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Would it help if you jump inside a free falling elevator?

Imagine you're trapped inside a free falling elevator. Would you decrease your impact impulse by jumping during the fall? When?
12
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5answers
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How does gravity work underground?

Would the effect of gravity on me change if I were to dig a very deep hole and stand in it? If so, how would it change? Am I more likely to be pulled downwards, or pulled towards the edges of the ...
12
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3answers
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Significance of the second focus in elliptical orbits

1.In classical mechanics, using Newton's laws, the ellipticity of orbits is derived. It is also said that the center of mass is at one of the foci. 2.Each body will orbit the center of the mass of ...
12
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2answers
378 views

Why is there no permittivity-type constant for gravitation?

When I look at electric or magnetic fields, each of them has a constant that defines how a field affects or is affected by a medium. For example, electric fields in vacuum have a permittivity constant ...
12
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3answers
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Why does the moon drift away from earth?

I once saw on TV that the moon is slowly drifting away from the earth, something like an inch a year. In relation to that the day on earth what also increase in time. I wonder why is that?
11
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4answers
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Is Feynman's explanation of how the moon stays in orbit wrong?

Yesterday, I understood what it means to say that the moon is constantly falling (from a lecture by Richard Feynman). In the picture below there is the moon in green which is orbiting the earth in ...
11
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5answers
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Why would a fat skydiver fall first in free fall?

I was having one of those obnoxious conversations with a friend where he was arguing that a fat skydiver would reach the ground faster than a skinny skydiver. To me it seemed as obvious that the world ...
11
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3answers
599 views

Is it possible that 5 planets can revolve around a single star in a single orbit?

I'm writing a novel and I'm quite confused if this system could be possible in the real universe. Is it possible that a system exist, where 5 identical planets which could be of same characteristics ...
11
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1answer
734 views

Toroidal Planets

I have read online in numerous places about the possible existence of toroidal planets, and I most people seem to believe that they could exist, but they also have no evidence to support this claim. I ...
11
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3answers
517 views

Can we disprove Artificial Gravity (like in the movies) with a thought experiment?

Suppose you have a Device that creates an 'artificial gravity' (AG) inside a Box, with these properties: the system does not use inertial forces (like centrifugal force) or a huge mass to create AG ...
10
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5answers
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The square in the Newton's law of universal gravitation is really a square?

When I was in the university (in the late 90s, circa 1995) I was told there had been research investigating the $2$ (the square of distance) in the Newton's law of universal gravitation. ...
10
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3answers
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How accurately can I expect to measure the gravitational constant with a club of college students?

I am a math instructor with almost no experimental physics background, but I run a math and engineering club that is interested in doing some experiments. I have read up a bit and see some obvious ...
10
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2answers
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How large can planets or moons appear?

In many artistic impressions or movies there are pictures or scenes where the sky is filled with an enormous moon (as seen from a planet) or vice versa. I wonder if there is an upper limit to the ...