Gravity is, quite simply, the force that holds together the universe. People are accustomed to thinking of it purely in terms of the gravitational pull Earth exerts on smaller bodies—a stone, a human being, even the Moon—or perhaps in terms of the Sun's gravitational pull on Earth. In fact, everything exerts a gravitational attraction toward everything else, an attraction commensurate with the two body's relative mass, and inversely related to the distance between them. The earliest awareness of gravity emerged in response to a simple question: why do objects fall when released from any restraining force? The answers, which began taking shape in the sixteenth century, were far from obvious. In modern times, understanding of gravitational force has expanded manyfold: gravity is clearly a law throughout the universe—yet some of the more complicated questions regarding gravitational force are far from settled.

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