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

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8answers
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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 ...
57
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7answers
4k views

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 ...
48
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5answers
3k views

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 ...
40
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7answers
3k views

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 ...
37
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6answers
5k views

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.
32
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2answers
664 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 ...
25
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4answers
9k views

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 ...
22
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1answer
1k views

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 ...
20
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8answers
31k views

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?
20
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4answers
4k views

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?
18
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4answers
721 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 ...
17
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3answers
2k views

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 ...
17
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1answer
755 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 ...
16
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5answers
824 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 ...
15
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9answers
8k views

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 ...
15
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3answers
2k views

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 ...
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.
15
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4answers
1k views

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
566 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
791 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 ...
15
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3answers
263 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 ...
14
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5answers
810 views

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?
14
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5answers
4k views

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
3k views

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
308 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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1answer
715 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
7k views

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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6answers
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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" ...
12
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3answers
1k views

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 ...
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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6answers
2k views

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 ...
11
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3answers
469 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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12answers
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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 ...
10
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5answers
1k views

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
votes
2answers
355 views

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 ...
10
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4answers
3k views

Acceleration of two falling objects with identical form and air drag but different masses

I have a theoretical question that has been bugging me and my peers for weeks now - and we have yet to settle on a concrete answer. Imagine two balloons, one is filled with air, one with concrete. ...
10
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2answers
295 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 ...
10
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1answer
441 views

Apollo and orbital mechanics: orbital decay if the Trans Earth Injection (TEI) burn had failed

I'm reading Jim Lovell (Apollo 8 and 13) and Jeffrey Kluger's book Apollo 13, which is a fantastic read about a long past era I only have kindergarten memories of. On page 54 there is a paragraph that ...
10
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1answer
567 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 ...
9
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7answers
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How does Newtonian gravitation conflict with special relativity?

In the Wikipedia article Classical Field Theory (Gravitation), it says After Newtonian gravitation was found to be inconsistent with special relativity, . . . I don't see how Newtonian ...
9
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6answers
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Gravity on the International Space Station

We created a table in my physics class which contained the strength of gravity on different planet and objects in space. At altitude 0(earth), the gravitational strength is 100%. On the moon at ...
9
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3answers
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Gravity in other dimensions than 3 and stable orbits

I have heard from here that stable orbits (ones that require a large amount of force to push it significantly out of it's elliptical path) can only exist in a three spatial dimensions because gravity ...
9
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4answers
501 views

Two planets in same orbit - not planets?

Let us pretend for a moment that there are two identical planets that are exactly opposite their star from each other and are the same distance from said star. (This would make them, at all times, ...
9
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5answers
514 views

Intuitive explanation of the inverse square power $\frac{1}{r^2}$ in Newton's law of gravity

Is there an intuitive explanation why it is plausible that the gravitational force which acts between two point masses is proportional to the inverse square of the distance $r$ between the masses (and ...
9
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3answers
2k views

Why don't planets have Circular orbits?

This might be a completely wrong question, but this is bothering me since many days ago. Given the mass (Sun) curves the space around it, gravitation is the result of such curved space (Correct me if ...
9
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3answers
518 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 ...
9
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3answers
409 views

No closed orbits for a Newtonian gravitational field in 4 spatial dimensions

We are supposed to show that orbits in 4D are not closed. Therefore I derived a Lagrangian in hyperspherical coordinates $$L=\frac{m}{2}(\dot{r}^2+\sin^2(\gamma)(\sin^2(\theta)r^2 \dot{\phi}^2+r^2 ...
9
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1answer
442 views

Gravitationally bound systems in an expanding universe

This isn't yet a complete question; rather, I'm looking for a qual-level question and answer describing a gravitationally bound system in an expanding universe. Since it's qual level, this needs a ...