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The Engineer
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Apollo Experiment: Which Falls Faster, the Feather or the Hammer (On the Moon)?

09/19/2008 3:53 PM

I just came across an interesting video clip from one of the Apollo moon missions. We are taught that without air resistance, a feather and a heavy, dense object will fall at the same speed. On earth, this is hard to visualize and leaves some skeptical. This video is a simple experiment that the Apollo 15 astronauts performed on the moon 37 years ago. (Don't know how this would have pulled off on a sound stage in Area 51 unless the feather was made of lead...)

http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/dynamics/gravity/apollo15.avi

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#1

Re: Apollo Experiment: Which Falls Faster, the Feather or the Hammer (On the Moon)?

09/19/2008 4:42 PM

Aw come on... Everyone knows there was a Hoover vacuum cleaner under the stage.

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#2

Re: Apollo Experiment: Which Falls Faster, the Feather or the Hammer (On the Moon)?

09/19/2008 11:56 PM

Ahh yes, 37 year old studies of the obvious. But it does make great video!

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Guru
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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Apollo Experiment: Which Falls Faster, the Feather or the Hammer (On the Mo

09/20/2008 2:37 PM

How do the conspiracy fanatics deal with this?

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#7
In reply to #3

Re: Apollo Experiment: Which Falls Faster, the Feather or the Hammer (On the Mo

09/22/2008 4:57 PM

Foam rubber hammers and cast-iron feathers. Simple.

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#4

Re: Apollo Experiment: Which Falls Faster, the Feather or the Hammer (On the Moon)?

09/21/2008 8:06 PM

Roger,

I suspect that you yourself is not completely sure, Or am I wrong?

Wangito.

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The Engineer
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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Apollo Experiment: Which Falls Faster, the Feather or the Hammer (On the Mo

09/21/2008 10:40 PM

I don't know, what would René say?

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#6

Re: Apollo Experiment: Which Falls Faster, the Feather or the Hammer (On the Moon)?

09/22/2008 11:53 AM

Thanks for posting this video. It is a great example of what really takes place even though our intuition could mislead us into thinking feathers always fall slowly because they are light. Feathers on earth under normal circumstances fall slowly because they have a large amount of wind resistance for their relatively low weight. Take away the wind resistance and they fall like Newton predicted.

Intuition can be very helpful and it can help us be creative but we must back it up with solid inquiry. When my sons were small they thought they could hold an umbrella and float slowly down (they saw Winnie the Pooh do it). Their intuition had been programmed incorrectly. I once had a college room mate (phys. ed. teaching major) that could not comprehend why you could not stick a big fan on top of a car to power it. When he stuck his hand out the window of a moving car there was all this free wind energy as he saw it. As an engineering student I tried to help him understand the energy situation of the car but his intuition would not let him understand.

I'm not trying to get into a big wind energy discussion because there would be small amounts of energy (small in comparison to pushing the car down the road) you could harvest in the car situation but I am making the point that, where our intuition leads us we must then investigate to see if we have reached the right conclusion.

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