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10.2  NEWTON AND THE APPLE




Isaac Newton at age 46, one year after the publication of his monumental work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica which formulated the laws of motion and of universal gravitation.


INTRODUCTION

Most people have heard the story about an apple falling on Isaac Newton’s head.   It is probably not trueNewton did think about things falling.  He was the first person we know about who made the correct explanation about why things fall.  He especially thought about the Moon falling towards Earth.   He came to the conclusion that all things are attracted to each other by a force - he called the force gravity.   He said that the gravity force of an object depends on its mass.  So, Earth attracts an apple and the Moon, while the apple and the Moon attract Earth, but with a smaller force.

Gravity is a concept that everybody takes for granted in modern times, but the explanation for why things fall to the ground was quite different until very recently.  It took a genius like Isaac Newton to explain what keeps the planets in orbit around the Sun, and the trajectory of projectiles.  Without the maths and physics of Newton space travel would not be possible,  and an understanding of his laws makes the building of large structures like bridges simpler.   Most importantly,  understanding Newton’s laws makes the building of safer cars possible and provided their drivers understand the laws, makes driving safer too.

This unit should help you to improve your understanding of motion and to appreciate how an understanding of the physics of motion applies to motor vehicles and road safety.


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