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Homework Help: Gravitation Physics Problem

  1. Nov 16, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Question: Four 8.0 kg spheres are located at the corners of a square of side 0.50m. Calculate the magnitude and direction of the gravitational force on one sphere due to the other three.

    Answer from Back of Textbook: 3.3 x10^-8 N toward diagonally opposite sphere

    2. Relevant equations

    F = (Gm1m2)/r^2

    m1 = mass1
    m2 = mass2
    G = constant 6.67 x 10^-11
    r = radius

    g = (Gm)/r^2

    g = acceleration due to gravity.

    I believe that these are the only two applicable to this question.

    3. The attempt at a solution

    Er, its kinda hard to attempt it if you don't have a clue what's going on. If someone could just push me in the right direction and give me a hint as to where to start, that would be awesome!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 16, 2009 #2
    have you were heard of the term "superposition?" And if so, what does it mean to you?

    (just asking, not being sarcastic ^^)
  4. Nov 17, 2009 #3
    No, I actually haven't.
  5. Nov 17, 2009 #4
    in essence, it means that we can calculate the gravitational force due to each of the three spheres on the fourth and sum them together to find the net force acting on the fourth sphere.

    So in your problem sphere #1 experiences a pulling force from sphere #2, #3, & #4.

    net force acting on sphere #1 = force caused by #2 + force caused by #3 + force caused by #4

    Make sense?
    (note: the formula above gives the magnitude of the net force not the direction.)
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2009
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