Feb 15, 2010

Question number three

It you throw a ball level with the ground and drop one from the same height, which one will hit the ground first?

In the mind many picture a base ball player throwing baseball at nintyeight miles an hour. In your mind you can see the ball just flying on forever. While the dropped ball falls strait to the ground in all most no time at all. So of course the dropped ball, a no brainer.

Well there's lot going on here, not just physics. I remember when young trips out to the farm for the weekend. It was about a two hour drive. Yet the drive there took forever and the drive home almost no time at all. Well we all know what this is, simple anticipation. The way there all I could think about was what we were going to do. The ride home no anticipation so time seemed to go by faster. Though the time is basically the same the perception of time changes.

Some thing similar occurs with the ball, anticipation as well as projection. We include the distance the ball is  traveling as part of the time. In our minds it can be difficult to separate distance with time. After all it takes time to travel any distance.
As we learned in question two all objects fall at the same rate, regardless of weight. But what about falling with speed?

Let's conduct an experiment. We will need a driver, some form of automobile (not a convertible) and a ball. Now sit some where as not to distract the driver, have the diver stop at a fairly level location, now drop the ball in the seat next to you. Note the time it took to fall. Now have the driver drive down a level straight section of the highway, at highway speed, drop the ball again from the same place as before, note the fall time.So what happened. Most of us did the experiment in our minds. and yes both balls fell at the same speed.

What is going on here? As we showed in question two, objects fall at the same rate in a vacuum regardless of there mass. This also includes there movement at an angle perpendicular to the force of gravity. This is how satellites stay up. They are constantly falling in reference to the ground or center of gravity, they just travel fast enough that they are constantly falling in an arch.

For a conformation of this look at the Myth Busters episode where they shoot and drop a bullet.