<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Free fall

Free fall is motion in the Earth's gravitational field when no other forces act on the object.

Free fall is the term used to describe a special kind of motion in the Earth's gravitational field. Free fall is motion in the Earth's gravitational field when no other forces act on the object. It is basically an ideal situation, since in reality, there is always some air friction which slows down the motion.

Experiment : acceleration due to gravity

Aim: Investigating the acceleration of two different objects during free fall.

Apparatus: Tennis ball and a sheet of A4 paper.


  1. Hold the tennis ball and sheet of paper (horizontally) the same distance from the ground. Which one would strike the ground first if both were dropped?
  2. Drop both objects and observe. Explain your observations.
  3. Now crumple the paper into a ball, more or less the same size as the tennis ball. Drop the paper and tennis ball again and observe. Explain your observations.
  4. Why do you think the two situations are different?
  5. Compare the value for the acceleration due to gravity of the tennis ball to the crumpled piece of paper.
  6. Predict what will happen if an iron ball and a tennis ball of the same size are dropped from the same height. What will the values for their acceleration due to gravity be?

If a metal ball and tennis ball (of the same size) were dropped from the same height, both would reach the ground at the same time. It does not matter that the one ball is heavier than the other. The acceleration of an object due to gravity is independent of the mass of the object. It does not matter what the mass of the object is.

The shape of the object, however, is important. The sheet of paper took much longer to reach the ground than the tennis ball. This is because the effect of air friction on the paper was much greater than the air friction on the tennis ball.

If we lived in a world where there was no air resistance, the A4 sheet of paper and the tennis ball would reach the ground at the same time. This happens in outer space or in a vaccuum.

Galileo Galilei, an Italian scientist, studied the motion of objects. The following case study will tell you more about one of his investigations.

Case study : galileo galilei

In the late sixteenth century, it was generally believed that heavier objects would fall faster than lighter objects. The Italian scientist Galileo Galilei thought differently. Galileo hypothesized that two objects would fall at the same rate regardless of their mass. Legend has it that in 1590, Galileo planned out an experiment. He climbed to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and dropped several large objects to test his theory. He wanted to show that two different objects fall at the same rate (as long as we ignore air resistance). Galileo's experiment proved his hypothesis correct; the acceleration of a falling object is independent of the object's mass.

A few decades after Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton would show that acceleration depends upon both force and mass. While there is greater force acting on a larger object, this force is canceled out by the object's greater mass. Thus two objects will fall (actually they are pulled) to the earth at exactly the same rate.

Questions & Answers

how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Berger describes sociologists as concerned with
Mueller Reply
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
QuizOver.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Maths test. OpenStax CNX. Feb 09, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11236/1.2
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Maths test' conversation and receive update notifications?