Gravity  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Gravity (also called gravitation) is a natural phenomenon by which all physical bodies attract each other. On Earth, gravity gives weight to physical objects employing a downward force to keep them grounded.

In modern physics, gravity is most accurately described by the general theory of relativity (proposed by Einstein) which describes gravity as a consequence of the curvature of spacetime. For most applications gravity is well approximated by Newton's law of universal gravitation, which postulates that the gravitational force of two bodies of mass is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.

In pursuit of a theory of everything, the merging of general relativity and quantum mechanics (or quantum field theory) into a more general theory of quantum gravity has become an area of active research. It is hypothesized that the gravitational force is mediated by a massless spin-2 particle called the graviton, and that gravity would have separated from the electronuclear force during the grand unification epoch.

Gravity is the weakest of the four fundamental forces of nature. The gravitational force is approximately 10−38 times the strength of the strong force (i.e. gravity is 38 orders of magnitude weaker), 10−36 times the strength of the electromagnetic force, and 10−29 times the strength of the weak force. As a consequence, gravity has a negligible influence on the behavior of sub-atomic particles, and plays no role in determining the internal properties of everyday matter. On the other hand, gravity is the dominant force at the macroscopic scale, that is the cause of the formation, shape, and trajectory (orbit) of astronomical bodies, including those of asteroids, comets, planets, stars, and galaxies. It is responsible for causing the Earth and the other planets to orbit the Sun; for causing the Moon to orbit 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; for solar system, galaxy, stellar formation and evolution; and for various other phenomena observed on Earth and throughout the universe. This is the case for several reasons: gravity is the only force acting on all particles; it has an infinite range; it is always attractive and never repulsive; and it cannot be absorbed, transformed, or shielded against. Even though electromagnetism is far stronger than gravity, electromagnetism generally has an insignificant effect on the motion of astronomical objects, since such bodies have a net electric charge close to zero.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gravity" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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