Why do things fall? How to explain why gravity is not a force

Warren B. Stannard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In most high school physics classes, gravity is described as an attractive force between two masses as formulated by Newton over 300 years ago. Einstein's general theory of relativity implies that gravitational effects are instead the result of a 'curvature' of space-time. However, explaining why things fall without resorting to Newton's gravitational force can be difficult. This paper introduces some simple graphical and visual analogies and models which are suitable for the introduction of Einstein's theory of general relativity at a high school level. These models provide an alternative to Newton's gravitational force and help answer the simple question: why do things fall?

Original languageEnglish
Article number025007
JournalPhysics Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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