Physics I

Conic sections for gravitational orbits.

Gravity is one of the fundamental forces in nature. Applying conservation laws for energy and angular momentum results in well defined orbits for systems of two masses. These orbits may be represented by conic sections: circles, ellipses, parabolas, and hyperbolas depending on the total energy of the system. (Figure by Prof. Stanley Kowalski.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2003



Cite This Course

Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

Physics I is a first-year physics course which introduces students to classical mechanics. Topics include: space and time; straight-line kinematics; motion in a plane; forces and equilibrium; experimental basis of Newton's laws; particle dynamics; universal gravitation; collisions and conservation laws; work and potential energy; vibrational motion; conservative forces; inertial forces and non-inertial frames; central force motions; rigid bodies and rotational dynamics.

Other Versions

Related Content

Stanley Kowalski. 8.01 Physics I. Fall 2003. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

For more information about using these materials and the Creative Commons license, see our Terms of Use.