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Isaac Newton's Scientific MethodTurning Data into Evidence about Gravity and Cosmology$
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William L. Harper

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199570409

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570409.001.0001

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Gravity as a Universal Force of Interaction (Propositions 7–13 Book 3)

Gravity as a Universal Force of Interaction (Propositions 7–13 Book 3)

(p.290) 8 Gravity as a Universal Force of Interaction (Propositions 7–13 Book 3)
Isaac Newton's Scientific Method

William L. Harper

Oxford University Press

Part I reviews Newton’s argument for his conceptual transition from gravity as centripetal forces of attraction toward planets to gravity as a universal force of pair-wise interaction between bodies. Part II features Newton’s measurements of masses of the sun and planets from orbits. Part III reviews Newton’s initial application of gravity to the solar system and his project of applying universal gravity to account for motions of solar system bodies by successively more accurate approximations. Appendix 1 gives details of a theorem about Law 3 for attractions. Appendix 2 reviews theorems about attraction to spherical bodies. It extends an integral of Chandrasekhar’s to show that Newton’s inference to inverse-square attraction to particles from inverse-square attraction toward whole solid spheres is backed up by systematic dependencies. Appendix 3 gives details of Newton’s proofs about attraction toward spherical shells. Appendix 4 reviews details of Newton’s measurements of properties of planets from orbits.

Keywords:   gravity, attraction, pair-wise interaction, solar system, universal gravity, successive approximations, attraction to spherical bodies, inverse-square attraction, Chandrasekhar, properties of planets from orbits

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