Understanding Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation: Students Guide

Marketing Dept., | 9 min read
Marketing Dept., | 9 min read

What is the Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation?

Newton's Law of Gravitation is a fundamental principle that describes what is the force of attraction between two objects: gravity. It states that every particle of matter in the universe attracts every other particle with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centers. This fundamental scientific theory was articulated by Sir Isaac Newton, an influential figure in the scientific revolution.  

The Fundamentals of Newton's Law of Gravitation

Newton's Law of Gravitation provides a crucial framework for understanding the forces that govern celestial bodies. At its core, the law introduces a formula that quantifies the gravitational attraction between two objects, making it possible to predict the movements of planets and the behavior of objects under gravity's influence. This foundational principle has shaped much of classical physics and continues to be essential in both theoretical and applied physics contexts.

Understanding the Law of Gravitation Formula

The calculator formula for Newton’s Law of Gravitation is “F = G (m1 * m2) / r^2”, where:

  1. F is the gravitational force
  2. G is the gravitational constant
  3. m1 and m2 are the masses of the objects
  4. R is the distance between their centers, encapsulating the essence of gravitational interactions. 

This formula is crucial for calculating the forces that govern the motions of objects in the universe, serving as a cornerstone of the theory of gravitational force. Is gravity a force that can be changed? Gravity itself is a fundamental force that cannot be changed, but its effects can be altered by changing the masses involved or the distance between them

Examples of  Law of Gravitation Theory

Newton's Law of Gravitation provides a fundamental explanation for the forces that govern the movements of objects in our universe. By understanding this principle, we can see how everything from celestial bodies to everyday objects are influenced by gravity.

  • Apple falling from a tree: An apple falls from a tree because the Earth pulls it towards itself. This invisible pull is what we call gravity. The apple moves towards the Earth, but the Earth also moves very slightly towards the apple.
  • The Moon and Earth: What force acts bewteen earth and the moon? The Moon stays in orbit around the Earth because the Earth is constantly pulling it towards itself. This gravitational force pull keeps the Moon from flying off into space and instead makes it travel in a circular path around the Earth.

How the Newton's Law Works in the Universe

Newton’s law is not just theoretical; it explains real-world phenomena such as the orbits of planets, the trajectories of comets, and the tides influenced by the moon. The law helps scientists predict the movement of celestial bodies and understand the structure of galaxies. Here are some experiment examples:

1.Cavendish experiment, which measures the gravitational attraction between small spheres in the laboratory, provides tangible demonstrations of this law. Such experiments help visualize and confirm the theoretical calculations of gravitational forces.

2.Space Exploration: Engineers utilize Newton's Law of Gravitation to calculate the trajectories of spacecraft. This allows them to ensure that spacecraft enter the correct orbits around planets or moons, crucial for missions like sending probes to Mars or satellites to orbit Earth.

3.Global Positioning Systems (GPS): GPS satellites must account for gravitational forces to maintain accuracy. Adjustments are made to both their paths and the timing of their signals based on gravitational effects from the Earth and other celestial bodies, ensuring precise navigation information is available worldwide.

Learning Newton’s Law of Gravitation with JOVE

JOVE's platform features detailed video demonstrations that explain the concepts of gravitational laws visually. These videos are designed to help students and researchers grasp complex theories through practical examples and well-designed experiments.

Law of Gravitation and Measuring Gravitational Acceleration 


Newton’s formulation of the Law of Gravitation is a defining moment in physics. With resources like JOVE, mastering this law not only becomes accessible but also engaging, providing profound insights into the universal forces that govern our universe.

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