Why Doesn’t a Golf Ball Fall Faster Than a Tennis Ball?
A golf ball is heavier than a tennis ball.
But, a tennis ball is bigger than a golf ball.
Which do you think would hit the ground sooner if you dropped them both at the same time?
You Will Need:
- A metal cookie tray
- A tennis ball
- A golf ball
- A feather (optional, but fun)
- A chair or stepladder to stand on
First, estimate which you think will hit the ground first. The metal cookie tray will help amplify the sound to tell you.
Then, decide why you think your decision is what will happen.
Is it the relative size of the balls? The relative weight of the balls?
Is there some other factor at work, like gravity or magnetism, the tides, the season, the time of day?
Finally, conduct the experiment to test your theory.
- Turn the cookie tray upside down on the floor next to the chair or stepladder.
- Stand on the chair and hold the golf ball and the tennis ball at the same height.
- Drop the balls at the same time.
Which one hits the tray first?
Do you hear one sound (bang) or two sounds (bang-bang)?
What Will Happen?
This is a trick. They both hit the ground at the same time. You will hear one bang.
Because gravity is a stronger force than the relative weight or size of the balls and it pulls them both with the same force.
Galileo published his theory that all objects with different weights would fall at the same speed in a vacuum in 1638.
Though his biographer claimed trhat Galileo tested this theory by dropping objects from the top of the Tower of Pisa, Galileo never wrote that he performed such an experiment.
Feathers Are Light. What Happens With Them?
What about if you drop a feather and golf ball at the same time?
The feather falls slower than the golf ball.
Why? Doesn’t gravity work on feathers too?
Yes, but the feather has so many air pockets in it that the air slows it down.
Astronaut David Scott tested this on the moon during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971.
With no air, gravity was the same for both the hammer and the feather and they hit the ground at the same time.
Click here to watch a video of Astronaut Scott performing this experiment.
Thanks to Bill Nye, the Science Guy for this activity.
Did you ever imagine you would have to go to the top of the Tower of Pisa to test Galileo’s theory?
Did your grandchildren figure out what was going to happen?
Did they want to test other objects, like a baseball ball and a pingpong ball?
To you and the delight of discovering the world through your grandchildren’s eyes.
Carol Covin, Granny-Guru
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Why Doesn’t a Golf Ball Fall Faster Than a Tennis Ball? Frugal Friday.