Space

Amazing gravitational waves discovery – what they are and why they’re so important

In 1916, Albert Einstein predicted that any event that disturbs spacetime will produce ripples that spread throughout the entire Universe. He called these ripples gravitational waves. This week, one hundred years after Einstein’s prediction, scientists revealed they had finally detected gravitational waves. The discovery being called the greatest scientific advance this century.  Here’s how they did it and why the discovery is such a big deal. What’s all this mumbo-jumbo about gravitational waves and spacetime? In scientific geek-speak, gravitational waves are disturbances in the fabric of spacetime. If you drag your finger through a bowl of water, you will notice waves follow the path of your finger and ripple outward towards the edge of the bowl. Einstein predicted that the same thing happens when a heavy object…
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Physics and math

Bowling ball and feather falling in world’s largest vacuum chamber

BBC ran a great segment demonstrating two objects falling in a vacuum at the same rate. The experiment was conducted in NASA’s Space Power Facility in Ohio and used a bowling ball and a feather to demonstrate the remarkable principle of physics. The facility used for this experiment, a space simulation chamber, is the world’s largest vacuum chamber. Originally built to be a nuclear test chamber, the huge room has thick concrete and aluminum walls and a huge series of pumps used to create the outerspace-like environment. To create the vacuum, the doors to the facility are sealed and air is pumped out until only about 2 grams of air are left inside the gigantic chamber (yep, there’s no oxygen in that room so entering…
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Space

Watch what happens when astronauts on the moon drop a hammer and feather at the same time

For a long time, Reeko has been trying to convince his readers that despite mind-boggling implications, Galileo was correct – all objects fall at the same rate regardless of how heavy they are. In other words, mass does not affect gravitational pull. Theoretically, in a vacuum, if you dropped a school bus (yes, yes, imagine the principal inside if you really must add dramatic effect) and a feather from a tower, both would hit the ground at the same time (and the principal would be very unhappy). Wait – don’t leave yet! We’re not making this stuff up! In 1971, on his last day on the moon, Apollo 15 Commander David Scott tested this theory. In one hand, he took a heavy geological hammer. In…
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Science Tips

Galileo Galilei’s Free Fall from the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Galileo, pronounced gal uh LAY oh (1564-1642), an Italian astronomer and physicist, has been called the founder of modern experimental science. Galileo made the first effective use of the refracting telescope to discover important new facts about astronomy. He also discovered the law of falling bodies as well as the law of the pendulum. Galileo designed a variety of scientific instruments. He also developed and improved the refracting telescope, though he did not invent it. Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa (yep, the site of the famous leaning tower) on Feb. 15, 1564. In the early 1570's, his family moved to Florence, and Galileo began his formal education at a school in a nearby monastery. Galileo's father, determined that his son should be a doctor,…
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miscellaneous

Simulating Gravity on Film

Simulating Gravity on Film Zero-G refers to weightlessness and means “zero g-force” not “zero gravity” as some would believe. It’s most commonly envisioned as astronauts floating around in space. You can experience zero gravity in a free falling airplane too and in fact, astronauts use these free falling planes to train in a weightless environment. 300 miles above the earth, where the space shuttle flies, gravity is only about 15% less than it is at the surface of the Earth – not much of a difference. You can think of weightlessness either as the absence of gravity (which is basically wrong) or as gravitational force pulling on an object from all sides equally (which is basically right). In this experiment, we’ll change the direction that…
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