Gravitational Attraction Between People
by Ron Kurtus (revised 22 January 2018)
You can find the gravitational force of attraction between people—such as between a boy and a girl—by applying the Universal Gravitation Equation, provided you know the mass of each person and their separation.
For example, suppose a boy who weighed 165 lb (74.8 kg-force) sat near a 50 kg-force (110 lb) girl, what would be the gravitational attraction between them, assuming the separation from their centers was 0.5 meters (19.7 in)?
Note that weights are in kilograms-force or newtons (N). To use in the gravitation equation, newtons must be converted to kilogram-mass by dividing by 9.8 m/s2.
(See Confusion about Mass and Weight Units for more information.)
Questions you may have include:
- What is the Universal Gravitational Equation?
- How do you determine the mass of each person?
- What is the force of attraction between the boy and the girl?
This lesson will answer those questions. Useful tool: Units Conversion
Universal Gravitation Equation
The solution requires an application of the Universal Gravitation Equation:
F = GMm/R2
- F is the force of attraction between two objects in newtons (N)
- G is the Universal Gravitational Constant = 6.674*10−11 N-m2/kg2
- M and m are the masses of the two objects in kilograms (kg)
- R is the separation in meters (m) between the objects, as measured from their centers of mass
Determine mass of each person
To calculate the force of attraction, you must first convert the weight on Earth of each person to his or her mass, using the relationship:
W = mg or m = W/g
- W is the weight in newtons or pounds
- m is the mass in kilogram-mass or slugs (pound-mass)
- g is the acceleration due to gravity on Earth; g = 9.8 m/s2 or 32 ft/s2
Thus, the mass of the boy is:
M = (74.8 kg-force)/(9.8 m/s2) = 7.6 kg-mass
Th mass of the girl is:
m = (50 kg-force)/(9.8 m/s2) = 5.1 kg-mass
Next, substitute the values into the equation:
F = GMm/R2
- M = 7.6 kg
- m = 5.1 kg
- R = 0.5 m
The result is:
F = (6.674*10−11 N-m2/kg2)(7.6 kg)(5.1 kg)/(0.5 m)2
F = 258.7*10−11/0.25
F = 1035*10−11 N
F = 1.035*10−8 N
The force of attraction is approximately:
F = 10−8 N
That is a very small gravitational attraction, but it can be measured on a sensitive instrument, such as one using piezoelectric sensors.
You can find the gravitational force between a boy and a girl by applying the Universal Gravitation Equation, provided you know the mass of each person and their separation.
The result is a very small gravitational attraction.
Think clearly and logically
Resources and references
Weight - Wikipedia
Mass - Wikipedia
Kilogram - Wikipedia
Mass and Weight: the Gravity Force - Engineering Toolbox
Questions and comments
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Gravitational Attraction Between Boy and Girl