Using geometry to avoid calculus
Show that a spherical shell of mass M attracts an external mass m as would a point mass M at its centre.
The simplest argument uses Gauss' theorem about flux, and symmetry. To show it directly we sum the force exerted by each element of area in the shell on m. How would you do this? David PS assume Newton's law of gravitation. 
I realize it is a challenge to talk about geometrical problems without diagams, but most of us are up to this.
I can't remember whether it was Laplace, Lagrange or Legendre who prided himself on producing a treatise containing no diagrams. Perhaps his name didn't begin with L or wasn't even French:) David PS Any enlightenment gratefully received 
[quote=davieddy;114317]Show that a spherical shell of mass M attracts an external mass m as would a point mass M at its centre.[/quote]Newton's [i]Principia[/i] includes a proof, of course. :)

[quote=cheesehead;114377]Newton's [I]Principia[/I] includes a proof, of course. :)[/quote]
Yes. But "avoiding calculus" wasn't one of his claims to fame:smile: 
Let R be the radius of the shell, and r be the distance
of m from the centre of the shell. Let P be a point displaced from the centre towards m by a distance R^2/r. Now express the contribution to the resultant force made by an element of the shell in terms of the solid angle it subtends at P. 
[quote=davieddy;114379]Yes. But "avoiding calculus" wasn't one of his claims to fame:smile:[/quote]I meant that that proof _is_ by geometry, not calculus. Newton didn't run around proving everything by means of his new calculus; geometric proofs are common in [I]Principia[/I]. I guess my "of course" was misleading.

[quote=cheesehead;114545]I meant that that proof _is_ by geometry, not calculus. Newton didn't run around proving everything by means of his new calculus; geometric proofs are common in [I]Principia[/I]. I guess my "of course" was misleading.[/quote]
Did he use my trick? 
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