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The Newtonian constant of gravitation is determined by measuring the gravitational force of attraction between massive spheres of lead and mercury. A torsion balance is used to measure the deflection angle which balances the torsional couple of the balance with the gravitational couple exerted by the massive spheres. Students record clockwise and counterclockwise deflections of the balance for massive spheres of different weights and materials. The torsion constant of the balance is also measured by allowing it to swing freely and timing the period of oscillation. The product of this torsion constant and the deflection angle is directly related to the Newtonian constant of gravitation. The proportionality constant in the relationship depends on the weights of the spheres, not their composition. Students can verify this by comparing their values of G for the lead and mercury spheres. (15 minutes)
Length: 15 minutes
Copyright date: ©1990
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