What Happens When a Bowling Ball and Feathers are Dropped Together in a Giant Vacuum Chamber?

According to the commonly held understandings of Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation, when a heavy object and a light object are dropped at the same time, the heavy object will fall more quickly than the light object. But is this actually true?

What about in a near perfect vacuum like in space? In an atmosphere, air resistance comes into play and affects the rate a light object can fall. But a vacuum doesn’t have any air resistance, so by removing that factor, we should be able to see the true nature of gravity on falling objects.

Brian Cox visited the NASA Space Power Facility near Cleveland, Ohio, home of the world’s largest vacuum chamber, to see what impact a near absolute vacuum has on gravity.

Before creating a vacuum, they tested what happens when a bowling ball is dropped from height at the same time as several large feathers. As expected, the bowling ball fell straight down as the feathers slowly floated down because of the atmospheric air resistance.

Then they set up the same experiment, evacuated the chamber, and dropped the feathers and bowling ball together.

Watch the video to see what happened. If you’ve never seen this before, you’ll be amazed.

 

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