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Motion under gravity
From the moment that Galileo dropped two cannonballs of different sizes and weights...
From the moment that Galileo dropped two cannonballs of different sizes and weights from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa mankind has been fascinated by the impact of gravity. This Unit looks at gravity, its impact on objects and how the energy involved in the movement of objects is dispersed or stored.
After studying this unit you should know:
- All objects, irrespective of their mass, experience the same acceleration g when falling freely under the influence of gravity at the same point on the Earth. The weight of an object is the force F
g due to gravity acting on the object, and for an object with mass m the weight is given by F
- If the height of an object of mass m changes by Δh, the change in gravitational energy is ΔE
- If gravity is the only force acting on an object, the sum of kinetic energy and gravitational energy is constant. Increases in kinetic energy are balanced by decreases in gravitational energy, and vice versa.
- There are various forms of potential energy, all of which depend on the position of an object rather than on its motion. The potential energy of an object increases as it moves in the opposite direction to that of the force acting on it. Strain energy depends on the extension or compression of an object.
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Motion under gravity
From the moment that Galileo dropped two cannonballs of different sizes and weights from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa mankind has been fascinated by the impact of gravity. This unit looks at gravity, its impact on objects and how the energy involved in the movement of objects is dispersed or stored.
This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extract from How the universe works (S197) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in.
This is an extract from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Physics and Astronomy courses or view the range of currently available OU Physics and Astronomy courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 21st July 2011
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
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