What is gravity?

What is gravity?

What is gravity? An asteroid in front of the solar system.
(Image created with Canva, Creative Commons CC0)

Isaac Newton described gravity as an attractive force between massive objects that causes the acceleration of falling bodies.

Albert Einstein described gravity as a consequence of the curved geometry of space and time.

Einstein’s theory has a greater explanatory scope than Newton’s theory because it predicts phenomena that Newton’s force model cannot explain.

Examples of such phenomena are gravitational waves and gravitational time dilation. 

Want to learn more?

The simulation

See the principle of equivalence in action with the relativistic space sheep of MinuteLabs. You explore how acceleration can make the sheep feel as if they were in a gravitational field: gravity and acceleration are two sides of the same coin! 

The feature

The geometry of a world map is remarkably similar to the geometry of spacetime. I wrote a feature for Lateral Mag in which I explain how curved spaces play tricks on us and how we can use maps as models to teach Einstein's theory of gravity and curved spacetime.

The explainer

General relativity connects gravity to the geometry of space and time. This connection gives often rise to conceptual confusions. Together with colleagues in Australia and Germany, I have tried to clarify confusing concepts related to gravity.

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