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by Test Author
Dec 15, 2020

Once Newton had formulated his laws of motion and taught them to some of his friends, they began trying to connect them to Kepler’s laws. It was clear now that an inward force would be needed to bend the planets’ paths. This force was presumably an attraction between the sun and each planet (although the sun does accelerate in response to the attractions of the planets, its mass is so great that the effect had never been detected by the prenewtonian astronomers). Since the outer planets were moving slowly along more gently curving paths than the inner planets, their accelerations were apparently less. This could be explained if the sun’s force was determined by distance, becoming weaker for the farther planets. Physicists were also familiar with the noncontact forces of electricity and magnetism, and knew that they fell off rapidly with distance, so this made sense.

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