INWIT™ — MOTION OF THE PLANETS AND 2.0000001612


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Motion of the Planets and 2.0000001612

by Vincent Mallette
Copyright © 2000 Inwit Publishing, Inc.

Newtonian mechanics explained the motion of the planets perfectly — or did it? By the last half of the 1800's astronomers had noticed that Mercury didn't quite toe the Newtonian line. The difference was slight, but it was real and it was progressive. Around 1900 some astronomers suggested that Mercury would behave if...Newton's law was changed so that gravity, instead of varying by GMm/r^2, varied by ^2.0000001612.

What's the real explanation? Einstein showed by general relativity in 1915 that gravity travels at the speed of light, and the speed lag is seen in the orbits of fast-moving planets like Mercury; Mercury is the fastest-moving, so it was the first discrepancy to be noticed. The thing that's wrong with the 2.0000001612 solution is that that number applies for Mercury only...the other planets would need a different number, closer to 2. This is a perfect example of an ad hoc solution.


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Updated Wed 25 Aug 2004