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Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which all physical bodies attract each other. It is most commonly experienced as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped.

Gravitation is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature, along with electromagnetism, and the nuclear strong force and weak force. In modern physics, the phenomenon of gravitation is most accurately described by the general theory of relativity by Einstein, in which the phenomenon itself is a consequence of the curvature of spacetime governing the motion of inertial objects. The simpler Newton's law of universal gravitation postulates the gravity force proportional to masses of interacting bodies and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. It provides an accurate approximation for most physical situations including calculations as critical as spacecraft trajectory.

From a cosmological perspective, gravitation causes dispersed matter to coalesce, and coalesced matter to remain intact, thus accounting for the existence of planets, stars, galaxies and most of the macroscopic objects in the universe. It is responsible for keeping the Earth and the other planets in their orbits around the Sun; for keeping the Moon in its orbit around the Earth; for the formation of tides; for natural convection, by which fluid flow occurs under the influence of a density gradient and gravity; for heating the interiors of forming stars and planets to very high temperatures; and for various other phenomena observed on Earth and throughout the universe.

History of gravitational theory

  1. Ball, Phil (2005). "Tall Tales". Nature News. doi:10.1038/news050613-10.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  2. Galileo (1638), Two New Sciences, First Day Salviati speaks: "If this were what Aristotle meant you would burden him with another error which would amount to a falsehood; because, since there is no such sheer height available on earth, it is clear that Aristotle could not have made the experiment; yet he wishes to give us the impression of his having performed it when he speaks of such an effect as one which we see."
  3. *Chandrasekhar, Subrahmanyan (2003). Newton's Principia for the common reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  (pp.1–2). The quotation comes from a memorandum thought to have been written about 1714. As early as 1645 Ismaël Bullialdus had argued that any force exerted by the Sun on distant objects would have to follow an inverse-square law. However, he also dismissed the idea that any such force did exist. See, for example, Linton, Christopher M. (2004). From Eudoxus to Einstein—A History of Mathematical Astronomy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 225. ISBN 978-0-521-82750-8. 
  4. M.C.W.Sandford (2008). "STEP: Satellite Test of the Equivalence Principle". Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  5. Paul S Wesson (2006). Five-dimensional Physics. World Scientific. p. 82. ISBN 981-256-661-9. 
  6. Haugen, Mark P. (2001). Principles of Equivalence: Their Role in Gravitation Physics and Experiments that Test Them. Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-41236-6. arXiv:gr-qc/0103067Freely accessible.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  7. "Gravity and Warped Spacetime". Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  8. Dmitri Pogosyan. "Lecture 20: Black Holes—The Einstein Equivalence Principle". University of Alberta. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  9. Pauli, Wolfgang Ernst (1958). "Part IV. General Theory of Relativity". Theory of Relativity. Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-64152-2. 
  10. Max Born (1924), Einstein's Theory of Relativity (The 1962 Dover edition, page 348 lists a table documenting the observed and calculated values for the precession of the perihelion of Mercury, Venus, and Earth.)
  11. Dyson, F.W.; Eddington, A.S.; Davidson, C.R. (1920). "A Determination of the Deflection of Light by the Sun's Gravitational Field, from Observations Made at the Total Eclipse of May 29, 1919". Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. A. 220 (571–581): 291–333. Bibcode:1920RSPTA.220..291D. doi:10.1098/rsta.1920.0009. . Quote, p. 332: "Thus the results of the expeditions to Sobral and Principe can leave little doubt that a deflection of light takes place in the neighbourhood of the sun and that it is of the amount demanded by Einstein's generalised theory of relativity, as attributable to the sun's gravitational field."
  12. Weinberg, Steven (1972). Gravitation and cosmology. John Wiley & Sons. . Quote, p. 192: "About a dozen stars in all were studied, and yielded values 1.98 ± 0.11" and 1.61 ± 0.31", in substantial agreement with Einstein's prediction θ = 1.75"."
  13. Earman, John; Glymour, Clark (1980). "Relativity and Eclipses: The British eclipse expeditions of 1919 and their predecessors". Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences. 11: 49–85. doi:10.2307/27757471. 
  14. Weinberg, Steven (1972). Gravitation and cosmology. John Wiley & Sons. p. 194. 
  15. See W.Pauli, 1958, pp.219–220
  16. "NASA's Gravity Probe B Confirms Two Einstein Space-Time Theories". Retrieved 2013-07-23. 
  17. Bhattacharjee, Yudhijit. "Galaxy Clusters Validate Einstein's Theory". Retrieved 2013-07-23. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 Randall, Lisa (2005). Warped Passages: Unraveling the Universe's Hidden Dimensions. Ecco. ISBN 0-06-053108-8. 
  19. Feynman, R. P. (1995). Feynman lectures on gravitation. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-62734-5.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  20. Zee, A. (2003). Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01019-6. 
  21. Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (2006). "The International System of Units (SI)" (PDF). 8th ed. Retrieved 2009-11-25. Unit names are normally printed in roman (upright) type ... Symbols for quantities are generally single letters set in an italic font, although they may be qualified by further information in subscripts or superscripts or in brackets.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  22. "SI Unit rules and style conventions". National Institute For Standards and Technology (USA). September 2004. Retrieved 2009-11-25. Variables and quantity symbols are in italic type. Unit symbols are in roman type. 
  23. List, R. J. editor, 1968, Acceleration of Gravity, Smithsonian Meteorological Tables, Sixth Ed. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., p. 68.
  24. U.S. Standard Atmosphere, 1976, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1976. (Linked file is very large.)
  25. Chinese scientists find evidence for speed of gravity,, 12/28/12.
  26. TANG, Ke Yun (2013). "Observational evidences for the speed of the gravity based on the Earth tide" (PDF). Chinese Science Bulletin. 58 (4-5): 474–477. doi:10.1007/s11434-012-5603-3. Retrieved 12 June 2013.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  27. Dark energy may just be a cosmic illusion, New Scientist, issue 2646, 7th March 2008.
  28. Swiss-cheese model of the cosmos is full of holes, New Scientist, issue 2678, 18th October 2008.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Chown, Marcus (16 March 2009). "Gravity may venture where matter fears to tread". New Scientist. Retrieved 4 August 2013.