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Homework Help: Coulomb's law vs. Newton's law of gravitation?

  1. Mar 13, 2015 #1
    • Warning: Template not used.
    What would be the easiest way to describe the similarities and differences between the two laws, other than the fact that their formulas are built similarly and they use different measurements. Any input would be great; I am currently having a brain block!

    Coulombs Law:F=K (q1*q2)/r^2
    Newtons 3rd Law: F=G(m1*m2)/r^2
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 13, 2015 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Hint: is Newton's Gravity ever repulsive? What about the electrostatic force?
    You can also just google "comparison coulomb newton"
  4. Mar 13, 2015 #3
    Thanks Simon, I have tried googling it and I didn't get quite the answer I was looking for.
  5. Mar 13, 2015 #4
    Notice how enormous the value of Coulomb's constant is compared to the gravitational constant.
  6. Mar 13, 2015 #5

    Simon Bridge

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    Oh? I found a whole lesson that lists similarities and differences and a raft of discussions on the same. More than enough to construct your own answer.
    What sort of answer were you looking for?

    Did you have a go following the hint given in the same post, the one in post #4?
  7. Mar 13, 2015 #6


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    The constants have different units and thus cannot be compared directly. I could easily define a set of units where the numerical value of the gravitational constant is orders of magnitude larger than Coulomb's constant. The relevant comparison would come from comparing, e.g., the gravitational force between two electrons to the electric force between the same electrons. This would be a comparison of forces, and thus be independent of the units chosen.
  8. Mar 13, 2015 #7


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    Newton's 3rd Law of motion is not the law of gravitation. The third law is the law of action and reaction. The law of gravitation is a different beast altogether.

    Can you list the points of similarity and dissimilarity that you have uncovered?
  9. Mar 14, 2015 #8
    You can also think about the inputs (q1 q2 vs m1 m2), discussing how the signs of the quantities have physical significance
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