Gravitational Physics

Gravitational physicists explore the implications of the general theory of relativity, in which gravitation is a consequence of the curvature of space and time. This curvature thus controls the motion of inertial objects. Modern research in gravitational physics includes studying applications of numerical relativity, black hole dynamics, sources of gravitational radiation, critical phenomena in gravitational collapse, the initial value problem of general relativity, and relativistic astrophysics. The works of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein dominate the development of gravitational theory. Newton’s classical theory of gravitational force held sway from his Principia, published in 1687, until Einstein’s work in the early 20th century. Newton’s theory is sufficient even today for all but the most precise applications. Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicts only minute quantitative differences from the Newtonian theory except in a few special cases. The major significance of Einstein’s theory is its radical conceptual departure from classical theory and its implications for further growth in physical thought.

 

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