Shapes of Free Fall
- Extra Reading
The shapes of the orbits of many planets and comets orbiting their mother-ship stars are well known to be circles or ellipses (an idea that was explained by Isaac Newton). But we now understand that, depending on the history and the energy of the orbiting system, other geometric shapes are possible and indeed frequently observed.
This talk will explore how simple changes to the circumstances can make dramatic differences to the shapes of the orbits, all of which belong to a special family of shapes known as the conic sections.
Gresham College has offered an outstanding education to the public free of charge for over 400 years. Today, Gresham plays an important role in fostering a love of learning and a greater understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Your donation will help to widen our reach and to broaden our audience, allowing more people to benefit from a high-quality education from some of the brightest minds.