Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract each other with a force proportional to their masses. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped. Gravitation causes dispersed matter to coalesce, and coalesced matter to remain intact, thus accounting for the existence of planets, stars, galaxies and most of the macroscopic objects in the universe.

Gravitation is responsible for keeping the Earth and the other planets in their orbits around the Sun; for keeping the Moon in its orbit around the Earth; for the formation of tides; for natural convection, by which fluid flow occurs under the influence of a density gradient and gravity; for heating the interiors of forming stars and planets to very high temperatures; and for various other phenomena observed on Earth and throughout the universe.

Gravitation is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature, along with electromagnetism, and the nuclear strong force and weak force. Modern physics describes the phenomenon using the general theory of relativity by Einstein, in which it is a consequence of the curvature of spacetime governing the motion of inertial objects. The simpler Newton's law of universal gravitation provides an accurate approximation for most physical situations.

Read more about GravitationHistory of Gravitational Theory, Anomalies and Discrepancies

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Famous quotes containing the word gravitation:

    I look for the new Teacher that shall follow so far those shining laws that he shall see them come full circle; shall see their rounding complete grace; shall see the world to be the mirror of the soul; shall see the identity of the law of gravitation with purity of the heart; and shall show that the Ought, that Duty, is one thing with Science, with Beauty, and with Joy.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    Knowledge, like matter, [my father] would affirm, was divisible in infinitum;Mthat the grains and scruples were as much a part of it, as the gravitation of the whole world.—In a word, he would say, error was error,—no matter where it fell,—whether in a fraction,—or a pound,—’twas alike fatal to truth.
    Laurence Sterne (1713–1768)