Work in an Attractive Inverse-Square Field

This Demonstration presents a computation of work done in an attractive central field, specifically Newton's inverse-square law of universal gravitation. The red disk locates the attracting mass. The plot shows the work done on the particle as it moves along a piecewise-linear path specified by the black locators.


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The segments of the path are linear, which implies that the work curve is made up of parabolic arcs. The calculations are based on Newton's second law of dynamics, , where is the force, is the mass, and is the acceleration, and the differential equation for work, , where is work and is distance.
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