28 votes

Who was the first to hypothesise that gravity from one mass causes the spacetime around another mass to curve?

The first metric theory of gravitation, in which the effects of gravitation are treated entirely in terms of the geometry of curved spacetime, was published by Finnish physicist Gunnar Nordström in ...
gandalf61's user avatar
  • 436
12 votes
Accepted

Why did Einstein develop General Relativity?

"Simply modifying" Newtonian gravity to have it spread at finite speed does not work if the finite speed is the speed of light. It was attempted by Laplace in his Celestial Mechanics (1799), who found ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 76k
11 votes

Who first proposed the theory of tidal locking?

The concept of tidal locking appeared, at least qualititively, in proposition 38 of book III of Newton's principia. Newton wrote there: Hence it is that the same face of the moon always respects the ...
user2554's user avatar
  • 4,419
10 votes
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What are the references for Riemann's discussion of gravity?

Riemann discussed a "unified field theory", including light, electromagnetism and gravity, in the unpublished paper Neue Mathematische Principien der Naturphilosophie (New Mathematical Principles of ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 76k
10 votes

Did the Idea of Universal Gravitation predate Newton?

The idea, yes, Aryabhata speculated about something like that as early as c. 500 AD, Brahmagupta called it gurutvākarṣaṇ. So did Kepler, at about the same time as Ahmad Baba al Massufi (late 1500-s), ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 76k
9 votes
Accepted

When did physicists begin using the symbol $G$ for Newton's gravitational constant?

The constant was introduced in Poynting's essay The Mean Density of the Earth that won the Adams prize at the University of Cambridge in 1893 on the subject "The Methods of determining the ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 76k
9 votes

Who first proposed the theory of tidal locking?

Here's an upper bound, so to speak, from a paper This was first “predicted” by Immanuel Kant in 1754, when he proposed that the gravitational force of the Moon would slow down Earth’s rotation until ...
Carl Witthoft's user avatar
8 votes

How did Newton come up with his formula for gravitational force?

The formula was a commonly discussed hypothesis at that time (Ch. Wren, Hooke, Halley). First attempt to test the formula was made when Newton was a young student in Cambridge: he compared ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
8 votes

Why didn't Einstein propose any metric solution to his equations?

The other answer by LolloBoldo is correct. But just to give some evidence, in the original 1915 paper Einstein explicitly states: The field equations (16a) then take, as a first approximation, the ...
Eletie's user avatar
  • 181
7 votes
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How was gravity explained in Ancient Greek and Roman times?

See Aristotle's Natural Philosophy. According to Aristotle, change in the natural world can be : [either] in accordance with the nature of the object — in which case the change is natural (phusei) or ...
Mauro ALLEGRANZA's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

How did Galileo know that objects rolling down a ramp was an accurate model for free fall?

From: Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Relating to Two New Sciences (Italian: Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche Intorno a Due Nuove Scienze), published in 1638. See: Engl.transaltion by ...
Mauro ALLEGRANZA's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Clairaut's proposed correction (reported as "D'Alembert's, Clairaut's and Euler's corrections") to the Newtonian inverse-square law of gravity

This answers (with some explanation and references) the two questions, (a) Were any concrete corrections proposed (in the 1740s, to the law of gravitation)? and (b) Where can one read about it? (a) ...
terry-s's user avatar
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6 votes

Did the Idea of Universal Gravitation predate Newton?

'Did the Idea of Universal Gravitation predate Newton?' (The question went on to mention the books of Ahmed Baba.) I had a look to see whether Baba's work is available in any way online, but found ...
terry-s's user avatar
  • 4,445
6 votes
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Who introduced gravitational potential?

The potential is not introduced in Hydrodynamica. Here is from The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics, p.366: "Gravitational potential appeared implicitly in the form of the integral of ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 76k
5 votes
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How did Newton come up with mass terms in his gravitation formula and then what led to a confusion between inertial and gravitational mass?

The terminology of inertial and gravitational masses does not appear until Einstein, and had to do with his transitioning from classical mechanics to general relativity, see Development of ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 76k
5 votes

Who wrote down the equations governing gravity in a field language for the first time?

Lagrange (1736-1813) in 1777, followed by Laplace (1749-1827) in 1782, was the first to introduce the scalar gravitational potential.1 Lagrange's paper, Remarques générales sur lemouvement de ...
Geremia's user avatar
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5 votes
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Did Einstein know about Laplace's query into whether gravity is instantaneous?

Laplace in 1799 introduced velocity dependence in a particular way, modifying the inverse square law so that the force was directed towards the position retarded according to the relative velocity $v$ ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 76k
5 votes

What pre-GR alternatives to Vulcan were advanced to explain Mercury's perihelion precession?

The idea of a hypothetical planet 'Vulcan' with an orbit closer to the Sun than Mercury's orbit has been given excessive prominence in secondary and popular accounts. These accounts tend to produce a ...
terry-s's user avatar
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5 votes
Accepted

Did Newton's leap to understanding gravity involve cannonball thought experiments on a smooth Earth?

It is because it was moved to another book A Treatise of the System of the World (also by Isaac Newton). From Wikipedia's Newton's cannonball: Newton's original plan for Philosophiæ Naturalis ...
Mauricio's user avatar
  • 3,897
5 votes
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What is the relationship between the Newtonian laws of motion and gravity and the Keplerian laws of planetary motion?

Newton's law of gravity is equivalent to Kepler's laws in the following sense: for two bodies, assuming attraction by a central force if the force obeys Newton's law then the motion obeys Kepler's ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Was Newton aware his theory of gravity had flaws?

See Perihelion precession of Mercury: Mercury deviates from the precession predicted from these Newtonian effects. This anomalous rate of precession of the perihelion of Mercury's orbit was first ...
Mauro ALLEGRANZA's user avatar
4 votes

How did Newton come up with his formula for gravitational force?

As Newton said he stood on the shoulders of giants. One of those giants was Kepler who found that the periodicity of a planetary orbit was related by $$ T^2~\propto~r^3. $$ This is Kepler's third law. ...
Lawrence Crowell's user avatar
4 votes

Advance of the perihelion of Mercury

The idea that the exponent in the law of gravitation is not exactly 2 was around since 18th century when people were trying to work the precise theory of the Moon. At some point, Clairaut thought that ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
4 votes

How was gravity explained in Ancient Greek and Roman times?

The aristotelian theory affirmed that there was a natural 'affinity' between substances that were alike. Thus, a stone fell towards the ground because of a natural, telluric affinity, and fire/smoke ...
xxavier's user avatar
  • 684
4 votes

Advance of the perihelion of Mercury

In this page K. Brown writes: The failure to arrive at a realistic Newtonian explanation for the anomalous precession led some researchers, notably Asaph Hall and Simon Newcomb, to consider ...
Leo's user avatar
  • 421
4 votes

When did physicists begin using the symbol $G$ for Newton's gravitational constant?

$G$ was invented after a system of units that included force was devised. Jungnickel & McCormmach's Cavendish: The Experimental Life pt. 2, §16: The Cavendish experiment today is often called the ...
Geremia's user avatar
  • 5,329
4 votes
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How accurate was the measurement of the period of Earth's orbit in the 19th Century?

Astronomer Norman Lockyer published The Meteoritic Hypothesis in 1890. By then the age of the Earth was known to be at least several hundred million years from geological evidence, and Darwin’s theory ...
gandalf61's user avatar
  • 436
4 votes

Before Einstein did people realize about a falling man not feeling weight?

It was only after planes and parachutes (and I don't know how many parachute jumps had been made before Einstein thought about this) that people could have really experienced weightlessness. Your ...
M.A. Golding's user avatar
  • 1,288
4 votes

Why didn't Einstein propose any metric solution to his equations?

The question, as asked, implicitly assumes an overly advanced state of the art for physics and astronomy in 1915 GR was an elaboration of special relativity (SR), but SR had very little direct ...
kfgjhgfkhglkfdjh's user avatar

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