law of gravity; gravitational force; potential; power; acceleration; equations of motion; trajectory; Maple
In his famous tetralogy, Space Odyssey, A. C. Clarke called the calculation of a motion of a mass point in the gravitational field of the massive cuboid a classical problem of gravitational mechanics. This article presents a proposal for a solution to this problem in terms of Newton's theory of gravity. First we discuss and generalize Newton's law of gravitation. We then compare the gravitational field created by the cuboid -- monolith, with the gravitational field of the homogeneous sphere. This is followed by the calculation of the shape of free fall trajectories and the solving of Newton's equations of motion, defining the motion of the mass point in the monolith's gravitational field for general initial conditions. The final section describes the procedures for calculating the shape of the monolith's equipotential surfaces. Due to the complexity of the problems, all calculations are performed in the Maple program. The results of the calculations are illustrated using both 2D and 3D graphs.