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Concept# Equivalence principle

Summary

In the theory of general relativity, the equivalence principle is the equivalence of gravitational and inertial mass, and Albert Einstein's observation that the gravitational "force" as experienced locally while standing on a massive body (such as the Earth) is the same as the pseudo-force experienced by an observer in a non-inertial (accelerated) frame of reference.
History of gravitational theory
Something like the equivalence principle emerged in the early 17th century, when Galileo expressed experimentally that the acceleration of a test mass due to gravitation is independent of the amount of mass being accelerated.
Johannes Kepler, using Galileo's discoveries, showed knowledge of the equivalence principle by accurately describing what would occur if the Moon were stopped in its orbit and dropped towards Earth. This can be deduced without knowing if or in what manner gravity decreases with distance, but requires assuming the equivalency between gravity and inertia.
If two stones were placed in any part of the world near each other, and beyond the sphere of influence of a third cognate body, these stones, like two magnetic needles, would come together in the intermediate point, each approaching the other by a space proportional to the comparative mass of the other. If the moon and earth were not retained in their orbits by their animal force or some other equivalent, the earth would mount to the moon by a fifty-fourth part of their distance, and the moon fall towards the earth through the other fifty-three parts, and they would there meet, assuming, however, that the substance of both is of the same density.
The 1/54 ratio is Kepler's estimate of the Moon–Earth mass ratio, based on their diameters. The accuracy of his statement can be deduced by using Newton's inertia law F=ma and Galileo's gravitational observation that distance . Setting these accelerations equal for a mass is the equivalence principle.

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