inverse square law


: a statement in physics: a given physical quantity (such as illumination) varies with the distance from the source inversely as the square of the distance

Examples of inverse square law in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Originally developed to explain the surprisingly speedy rotations of galaxies without resorting to dark matter, today MOND is a collective term given to theories that assume the force of gravity does not always (as Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein insisted) follow the inverse square law. Nola Taylor Tillman, Scientific American, 25 Oct. 2023 The amount of light an objects gets from the Sun depends on its distance from the Sun squared (this is called the inverse square law of light). Phil Plait, Discover Magazine, 14 Mar. 2012 Gravity’s inverse square law also means the reach of gravitational attraction is technically infinite. Bill Andrews, Discover Magazine, 18 July 2013 The team compared these measurements to Newton’s famous inverse square law of gravity, which describes how the gravitational force between two objects depends on their separation: the data were consistent with Newton’s law to within 10 percent. Ben Brubaker, Scientific American, 10 Mar. 2021 This inverse square law, which arises from geometry, is an idealization that strictly applies to nonphysical point masses. Quanta Magazine, 5 Dec. 2019 This is because of a mathematical relationship called the inverse square law. Ben Finio, Scientific American, 3 Oct. 2019 Power law distributions are seen in many physical situations, like the inverse square laws of gravitation and electric fields. Quanta Magazine, 20 Aug. 2018 Most of the time, crowds flow along this way, each person using this inverse square law to avoid collisions while getting to their own destination. Evelyn Lamb, Smithsonian, 17 Jan. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'inverse square law.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1921, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of inverse square law was in 1921

Dictionary Entries Near inverse square law

Cite this Entry

“Inverse square law.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

inverse square law

: a statement in physics: a physical quantity (as illumination) varies as the reciprocal of the square of the distance of the quantity from its source
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