Gravitation

In the most common sense, gravitation or gravity is the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped. In the scientific sense, gravitation is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies appear to attract each other with a force proportional to their masses. The phenomenon of gravitation itself, however, is a byproduct of a more fundamental phenomenon described by general relativity, which suggests that spacetime is curved according to the presence of matter through a yet-to-be discovered mechanism. Gravitation is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature, along with electromagnetism, and the nuclear strong force and weak force. In modern physics, the phenomenon of gravitation is most accurately described by the general theory of relativity by Einstein, in which the phenomenon itself is a consequence of the curvature of spacetime governing the motion of inertial objects. The simpler Newton's law of universal gravitation provides an accurate approximation for most physical situations including calculations as critical as spacecraft trajectory. From a cosmological perspective, gravitation causes dispersed matter to coalesce, and coalesced matter to remain

intact, thus accounting for the existence of planets, stars, galaxies and most of the macroscopic objects in the universe. It is responsible for keeping the Earth and the other planets in their orbits around the Sun; for keeping the Moon in its orbit around the Earth; for the formation of tides; for natural convection, by which fluid flow occurs under the influence of a density gradient and gravity; for heating the interiors of forming stars and planets to very high temperatures; and for various other phenomena observed on Earth and throughout the universe. Scientific revolution Modern work on gravitational theory began with the work of Galileo Galilei in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. In his famous (though possibly apocryphal[1]) experiment dropping balls from the Tower of Pisa, and later with careful measurements of balls rolling down inclines, Galileo showed that gravitation accelerates all objects at the same rate. This was a major departure from Aristotle's belief that heavier objects accelerate faster.[2] Galileo correctly postulated air resistance as the reason that lighter objects may fall more slowly in an atmosphere. Galileo's work set the stage for the formulation of Newton's theory of gravity.