2022-07-01 17:12


Conference: Bucharest University Faculty of Physics 2019 Meeting

Section: Physics Education

The calculation of gravitational force in the Excel spreadsheet

Ionel GRIGORE(1), Daniela STOICA(1), Cristina MIRON(2)

1)“Ion Luca Caragiale” National College, Ploieşti, Romania

2) Faculty of Physics, University of Bucharest, Bucharest-Măgurele, Romania


Spreadsheet, didactic tools, mass distribution, gravitational force, gravitational field, definite integral, Physics Education

This paper describes two didactic tools made with the help of Excel spreadsheets that allow the calculation of the gravitational attraction force between two bodies. With the help of the first tool we can calculate the force of gravitational attraction between a punctiform body and a linear mass distribution, whereas with the second tool the force of gravitational attraction between two straight linear mass distributions. The spatial configuration of the mass distributions in the two situations is specified in the input data. In the first case, the punctiform body is placed on the line determined by the linear distribution at a given distance to one of the ends of the distribution. In the second case, the two linear mass distributions are in the same direction and the distance between the neighboring ends of the distributions is specified. The results are obtained both analytically and numerically in order to be compared with each other. It shows how the second tool can be built by modifying and expanding the first tool in the spreadsheet. The advantage of classroom use of these tools lies in the ability to easily solve a gravitational field problem with a higher degree of difficulty through the facilities provided by the spreadsheet. The calculation of the gravitational force in the spreadsheet also provides a good opportunity to familiarize students with the concept of definite integral. Thus, by using the first tool, students can get acquainted with the simple integral and by using the second one with the double integral.