Gravity as a tool of discovery

The current description of gravity is so accurate that it has become a guide for cosmic discoveries.

American astronomers noticed in the 1960s that galaxies appear to rotate fast enough to spin-off stars. However, they did not whirl apart, and something seems to help them stick together. Most physicists now suspect that "dark matter" warps spacetime enough to keep galaxies and galaxy clusters intact.

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What Is Gravity?

space.com

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Albert Einstein held that space and time together made up the universe's fabric that could stretch and compress. Einstein suggested that the shape of spacetime is what gives rise to the force of gravity. A concentration of mass, like the earth or sun, bends space around it, like water that bends around the flow of a river. When other objects move closeby, they follow the curvature.

Einstein's field equations of general relativity, which show how matter and energy warp spacetime, gained acceptance when they successfully predicted the changes in Mercury's orbit.

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Gravity is one of the universe's fundamental forces

Scientists know four forces - things that attract or repel one object from another. The strong force and the weak force operate only inside the centres of atoms. The electromagnetic force rules objects with excess charge, and gravity directs objects with mass.

People have long speculated about gravity. While ancient Greek and Indian philosophers observed gravity, it was the insight from Isaac Newton that made it possible to measure and predict the phenomenon.

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While Isaac Newton's description of gravity was good enough to detect Neptune's existence in the mid-1800s, Newton's law was not perfect. Astronomers discovered a mismatch between his law and the laws of nature.

This mismatch was resolved in 1915 when Albert Einstein published his theory of general relativity. Before this theory, physicists knew how to calculate a planet's gravitational pull, but they didn't understand why gravity behaved this way.

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In 1687, Isaac Newton's treatise PhilosophiĂŠ Naturalis Principia Mathematica showed that every object in the universe, small and great, pulled on every other object, from a grain of sand to the planets.

Newton could compute the attraction: Doubling the mass of one object makes its pull twice as strong, and bringing two objects twice as close quadruples their mutual pull.

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Insights of Albert Einstein

Many insights of Albert Einstein are now part of popular imagination: black holes, time warps, and wormholes show up in movies and books.

Less famous, but probably the most revolutionary part of Einstein's phenomena, is a simple idea that shows how pieces fit together and illuminate the road ahead.

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Einstein, Symmetry and the Future of Physics

quantamagazine.org

General Relativity V.S. Special Relativity

Theory of General and Special Relativity are both immensely well known theories that discuss gravity in some aspect or another. 

The chief difference that can be made between them is the level of completeness. But what exactly does each theory talk about?

General Relativity discusses the laws of gravitation and its relation to other forces of nature.

Special Relativity discusses certain phenomena in the absence of gravity.

General Relativity also explores the astrophysical realm more closely than Special Relativity does.

Both theories are strangely intriguing to learn about.

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Theory of relativity

en.wikipedia.org

Gravity And The Forces Of Nature

According to physicists, quantum particles are responsible for three forces of nature:

  • Strong nuclear force.
  • Weak nuclear force.
  • Electromagnetic force.

The fourth force of nature, gravity, is till now assumed to not originate from quantum particles, but from the curves in the space-time continuum, according to the celebrated physician Albert Einstein.

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Why Gravity Is Not Like the Other Forces

quantamagazine.org

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