- #1

KBriggs

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## Homework Statement

Show that the variation of gravity with height can be accounted for approximately by the following potential function:

V(z)=mgz(1-z/R)

Where R is the radius of the Earth and z the height above the surface.

## Homework Equations

r=R+z

V=-GmM/r

F=GmM/r^2

## The Attempt at a Solution

First, I said define z such that r = R + z. We have the potential energy function for the Earth as V(r)=-GmM/r, so V(z)=-GmM/(R+z). I then expanded this around z=0 and took the first two terms in the series to get:

V=-GmM/R + GmMz/R^2

and you can factor this to get

V=GmM/R * [1-z/R]

but the force F given by the potential energy function is GmM/R^2 at the surface, so this is equal to mg, so g = GM/R^2

So the V function is then V = mgR[1-z/R]

And here I am stuck. It appears that I am still taking the centre of the planet as my reference point. Can someone help me? I'm stuck.

Somehow I need to redefine the reference point so that V = 0 for z = 0. How can I do this?

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