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Relativity in Modern Physics$
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Nathalie Deruelle and Jean-Philippe Uzan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198786399

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198786399.001.0001

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The law of gravitation

The law of gravitation

(p.101) 11 The law of gravitation
Relativity in Modern Physics

Nathalie Deruelle

Jean-Philippe Uzan

Oxford University Press

This chapter embarks on the study of Newton’s law of gravitation. It first discusses gravitational mass and inertial mass, a measure of the ‘resistance’ of the point particle to an applied force. The numerical value of the inertial mass of a body can in principle be obtained from collision experiments by assigning to a reference body a unit inertial mass of one kilogram or, more rigorously, one ‘inertial kilogram’. Next, the chapter considers the ratio of gravitational and inertial masses. It considers that, in the absence of friction, all objects, no matter what their inertial mass, or the nature of their constituents, or the internal energy or cohesive forces of their constituents, fall in the same way in an external gravitational field. Finally, this chapter studies Newton’s gravitational force and field, as well as the Poisson equation and the gravitational Lagrangian.

Keywords:   gravitation, law of gravitation, Newton’s law of gravitation, gravitational mass, inertial mass, Newton’s gravitational force and field, Poisson equation, gravitational Lagrangian

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