Theories of Gravity: A Historical Exploration

For centuries, gravity has been a force that fascinates and puzzles scientists and philosophers alike. This page offers a comprehensive overview of the theories of gravity throughout history, from primitive ideas to modern quantum physics theories.

1. Gravity in Antiquity

1.1 Aristotle

In antiquity, Aristotle believed that objects fell towards the earth because they were seeking their natural place. According to him, heavier elements like earth and water sought to move towards the center of the universe (which he believed to be the Earth).

1.2 Heliocentric Theories

With the adoption of the heliocentric model by Copernicus, understanding of gravity began to slowly evolve, although Copernicus himself did not formulate an explicit theory of gravity.

2. The Scientific Revolution

2.1 Galileo Galilei

In the 16th century, Galileo questioned Aristotle’s theories. Through his experiments dropping objects from the Tower of Pisa, he discovered that the falling speed of objects was independent of their mass, thus revolutionizing the understanding of gravity.

2.2 Isaac Newton

The real breakthrough came with Sir Isaac Newton in the 17th century. Newton formulated the universal law of gravitation, stating that every particle in the universe attracts every other particle with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centers. This law was able to explain not only the fall of apples but also the orbits of planets.

3. The Theory of Relativity

3.1 Albert Einstein

In the early 20th century, Albert Einstein further revolutionized our understanding of gravity with his theory of general relativity. According to Einstein, gravity is not a classical force, but a curvature of space-time caused by mass. Planets orbit stars not because they are pulled by an invisible force, but because they follow the curvature of space-time.

4. Towards Quantum Gravity

4.1 Current Theories

Physicists today are trying to unify general relativity, which describes phenomena at large scales very well, with quantum mechanics, which explains phenomena at the scale of subatomic particles. Theories such as loop quantum gravity and string theory are potential candidates for a theory of everything.


Gravity has come a long way from primitive theories to the complex models of modern physics. Each theory has added a new layer of understanding, paving the way for new questions and research. The quest to understand this fundamental force continues to challenge and inspire scientists around the world.