Saturday, November 15, 2014

Galileo: Still right

Sometimes science is at its best when it displays its elegant simplicity. For example, consider this entry from Phil Plait's "Bad Astronomy" blog:
If you ask someone what would fall faster, a bowling ball or a marble, I bet a lot of folks would say the heavier bowling ball falls faster. But in fact, if dropped from a meter or so off the ground, they’d fall at the same rate. Gravity accelerates them at the same rate, so they fall at the same rate.
Part of the reason our intuition is off here is due to air. As objects fall, the air pushes back on them. This depends pretty strongly on their surface area, how big they are, so a lightweight large object will in fact fall more slowly than a heavier, smaller one.
Dropping a bowling ball and a feather will yield results that will satisfy our intuition. But what if you removed all the air from the room and dropped them? What happens then?
This is what happens.

1 comment:

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    ReplyDelete