Gravitational Potential and Gravitational Potential Energy Gravitational Potential Energy If gravity moves an object it does work on that object. However, the amount of work done does not depend on the path over which gravity acted, but rather on the initial and final positions of the object. This means that gravity is a conservative force. We can sketch a proof of this. Imagine we have a fixed mass M and some other mass m that is moved from A to B by the gravitational force of M . It is clear that any two imaginable paths can be broken into infinitesimal steps perpendicular and parallel to the radius connecting M and m . Since gravity is a central force, the perpendicular steps make no contribution to the work, since no force is acting in this direction. Since both paths progress from A to B , the sum of their parallel-radial segments must be equal. Since the magnitude of the force is equal at equal radial distance, the work in each case must be equal.
This is the end of the preview. Sign up
access the rest of the document.
This note was uploaded on 02/09/2012 for the course PHY PHY2053 taught by Professor Davidjudd during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.