Show Me Some Science! Free Fall
Check out our Zero Gravity Box!
What’s Going On?
An object in free fall is one that is being acted upon only by gravity — no other forces. When in free fall, everything in the box (as well as the box itself) are free to move under the influence of gravity, and gravity acts on each part equally. Therefore everything in the box acts as if it were weightless; it’s as if gravity were zero!
Check out the magnets. Normally the magnets levitate, as they achieve a balance of the magnetic force pushing them up and gravity pulling them down. What happens when they’re in free fall?
Check out the hamsters on the scale and the trampoline. As the force of gravity goes away what happens to the reading on the scale? Watch how the spring force from the scale and the trampoline shoot the hamsters in the air.
Check out the two aquatic hamsters floating with packing peanut “balloons” in the water. Buoyancy is the name of the force that makes boats float in the water and helium balloons float in the air. The buoyancy force comes from the denser fluid (in this case water) being pulled down by gravity, which in turn forces the less dense object (balloons here) up. However, in free fall, the gravitational force is zero, and buoyancy stops working!
Note that the box is considered in free fall when it’s under only the influence of gravity. When we toss it into the air, it’s free fall as soon as it leaves the blanket going up and continues to be in free fall until gets back down!