Free Fall Problem Solving

Free Fall Problem Solving-30
The steeper the incline, the more rapidly the ball would gain speed.

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It's a deep mystery, and the smartest people in the world don't know the basic reason for it.” Contrast that with the average person's off-the-cuff answer, “Oh, it's because of gravity.” Feynman liked his father's answer, because his father realized that simply giving a name to something didn't mean that you understood it.

The radical thing about Galileo's and Newton's approach to science was that they concentrated first on describing mathematically what really did happen, rather than spending a lot of time on untestable speculation such as Aristotle's statement that “Things fall because they are trying to reach their natural place in contact with the earth.” That doesn't mean that science can never answer the “why” questions.

Thus you see how, from your assumption that the heavier body moves more rapidly than the lighter one, I infer that the heavier body moves more slowly. The physicist Richard Feynman liked to tell a story about how when he was a little kid, he asked his father, “Why do things fall?

” As an adult, he praised his father for answering, “Nobody knows why things fall.

Galileo, who had a flair for the theatrical, did the experiment by dropping a bullet and a heavy cannonball from a tall tower.

Aristotle's observations had been incomplete, his interpretation a vast oversimplification.

How the speed of a falling object increases with time Galileo's second stroke of genius was to find a way to make quantitative measurements of how the speed of a falling object increased as it went along.

Again it was problematic to make sufficiently accurate time measurements with primitive clocks, and again he found a tricky way to slow things down while preserving the essential physical phenomena: he let a ball roll down a slope instead of dropping it vertically.

has a fixed velocity which is determined by nature... Salviati: But if this is true, and if a large stone moves with a speed of, say, eight [unspecified units] while a smaller moves with a speed of four, then when they are united, the system will move with a speed less than eight; but the two stones when tied together make a stone larger than that which before moved with a speed of eight.

Salviati: If then we take two bodies whose natural speeds are different, it is clear that, [according to Aristotle], on uniting the two, the more rapid one will be partly held back by the slower, and the slower will be somewhat hastened by the swifter. Hence the heavier body moves with less speed than the lighter; an effect which is contrary to your supposition.


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