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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Physics GRE - #1

It is possible that the Newtonian theory of gravitation may need to be modified at short range. Suppose that the potential energy between two masses $m$ and $m'$ is given by \[V(r)=-\frac{Gmm'}{r}(1-ae^{-\frac{r}{\lambda}})\]
For short distances $r\ll \lambda$ calculate the force between $m$ and $m'$.

  • $F=-\frac{Gmm'}{r^2}$
  • $F=-\frac{Gmm'}{r^2}(1-a)$
  • $F=-\frac{Gmm'}{r^2}(1+a)$
  • $F=-\frac{Gmm'}{\lambda r}$
To get the force, we take the negative derivative of the potential function, $-V^\prime(r)$. \[
-V^\prime(r) & = & -\frac{Gmm'}{r^2}(1-ae^{-r/\lambda})-\frac{Gmm'}{r}(ae^{-r/\lambda}) \\
                     & = & -\frac{Gmm'}{r^2}\left(1-ae^{-r/\lambda}\left(1+\frac{r}{\lambda}\right)\right)
When $r\ll \lambda$, we have \[F(r)\approx -\frac{Gmm'}{r^2}(1-a).\]


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