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March 21, 2023 5:00 PM


Mathematica is back at it with another of their Lecture Entertainment Series, this time given by the wonderful Kiselev!

Newton's gravity force law: is the point mass approximation exact?

Newton's gravity force and Coulomb's electrostatic force act by the inverse square law in distance. Kepler's empiric law suggests that planet orbit the Sun by ellipses. Newton deduces elliptic orbits for massive point particles. The Sun and planets are far from each other yet they are visibly not points: consider Jupiter and other giants. Now are these ellipses, Newton's and Kepler's, the same? That is, is the point particle approximation exact?