Newton with scratch

April 4th, 2008 by Thorsten

I demonstrated how one can simulate Newtonian mechanics using scratch, a visual, impure language for children developed by people from MIT. My goal was to write a little program which shows that orbits are a consequence of Newton’s first law (inertia) and the law of gravity, which can be interpreted as a constant move towards the center of gravity. However, my first attempt has the problem that the planet always falls into the sun. The reason for this kind of friction is the discretisation of the movement. A little modification solves this problem but leads to an oscillating orbit. Nisse speculated (not entirely seriously) that this may be the real reason for the perihel movement of Mercury…

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