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ERIC Number: EJ1154335
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Nov
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-9120
Free Fall and the Equivalence Principle Revisited
Pendrill, Ann-Marie
Physics Education, v52 n6 Article 065002 Nov 2017
Free fall is commonly discussed as an example of the equivalence principle, in the context of a homogeneous gravitational field, which is a reasonable approximation for small test masses falling moderate distances. Newton's law of gravity provides a generalisation to larger distances, and also brings in an inhomogeneity in the gravitational field. In addition, Newton's third law of action and reaction causes the Earth to accelerate towards the falling object, bringing in a mass dependence in the time required for an object to reach ground--in spite of the equivalence between inertial and gravitational mass. These aspects are rarely discussed in textbooks when the motion of everyday objects are discussed. Although these effects are extremely small, it may still be important for teachers to make assumptions and approximations explicit, to be aware of small corrections, and also to be prepared to estimate their size. Even if the corrections are not part of regular teaching, some students may reflect on them, and their questions deserve to be taken seriously.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A