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  • Describe the effects of gravity on objects in motion.
  • Describe the motion of objects that are in free fall.
  • Calculate the position and velocity of objects in free fall.

Falling objects form an interesting class of motion problems. For example, we can estimate the depth of a vertical mine shaft by dropping a rock into it and listening for the rock to hit the bottom. By applying the kinematics developed so far to falling objects, we can examine some interesting situations and learn much about gravity in the process.


The most remarkable and unexpected fact about falling objects is that, if air resistance and friction are negligible, then in a given location all objects fall toward the center of Earth with the same constant acceleration , independent of their mass . This experimentally determined fact is unexpected, because we are so accustomed to the effects of air resistance and friction that we expect light objects to fall slower than heavy ones.

Positions of a feather and hammer over time as they fall on the Moon. The feather and hammer are at the exact same position at each moment in time.
A hammer and a feather will fall with the same constant acceleration if air resistance is considered negligible. This is a general characteristic of gravity not unique to Earth, as astronaut David R. Scott demonstrated on the Moon in 1971, where the acceleration due to gravity is only 1 . 67 m/s 2 size 12{1 "." "67 m/s" rSup { size 8{2} } } {} .

In the real world, air resistance can cause a lighter object to fall slower than a heavier object of the same size. A tennis ball will reach the ground after a hard baseball dropped at the same time. (It might be difficult to observe the difference if the height is not large.) Air resistance opposes the motion of an object through the air, while friction between objects—such as between clothes and a laundry chute or between a stone and a pool into which it is dropped—also opposes motion between them. For the ideal situations of these first few chapters, an object falling without air resistance or friction is defined to be in free-fall    .

The force of gravity causes objects to fall toward the center of Earth. The acceleration of free-falling objects is therefore called the acceleration due to gravity    . The acceleration due to gravity is constant , which means we can apply the kinematics equations to any falling object where air resistance and friction are negligible. This opens a broad class of interesting situations to us. The acceleration due to gravity is so important that its magnitude is given its own symbol, g size 12{g} {} . It is constant at any given location on Earth and has the average value

g = 9 . 80 m/s 2 . size 12{g=9 "." "80 m/s" rSup { size 8{2} } } {}

Although g size 12{g} {} varies from 9 . 78 m/s 2 size 12{9 "." "78 m/s" rSup { size 8{2} } } {} to {} 9 . 83 m/s 2 size 12{9 "." "83 m/s" rSup { size 8{2} } } {} , depending on latitude, altitude, underlying geological formations, and local topography, the average value of 9 . 80 m/s 2 size 12{9 "." "80 m/s" rSup { size 8{2} } } {} will be used in this text unless otherwise specified. The direction of the acceleration due to gravity is downward (towards the center of Earth) . In fact, its direction defines what we call vertical. Note that whether the acceleration a size 12{a} {} in the kinematic equations has the value + g size 12{+g} {} or g size 12{ - g} {} depends on how we define our coordinate system. If we define the upward direction as positive, then a = g = 9 . 80 m/s 2 size 12{a= - g= - 9 "." "80 m/s" rSup { size 8{2} } } {} , and if we define the downward direction as positive, then a = g = 9 . 80 m/s 2 size 12{a=g=9 "." "80 m/s" rSup { size 8{2} } } {} .

Questions & Answers

a rare fraction and adjacent contraction of a sound wave are travelling in air and are separated by distance of 15cm, taken that velocity sound is 330ms what is the frequency?
Jennifer Reply
what is speed and velocity
Yaseer Reply
speed is scaler quantity and velocity is vector quantity speed has only magnitude and velocity has magnitude+direction both speed and velocity has same unit m/s
I am finding it hard to draw the velocity time graph, please can anyone assist me to know how to draw it, please?
explain and draw how to measure length when using ruler, micrometer screw gauge and vernnier calliper
gift Reply
Calculate the average velocity in time interval 6sec to 12sec and determine the instantaneous velocity
Lekiisi Reply
the force is not constant in this case of tow car collide for short period of time ..why is the force is not constant?
Abel Reply
calculate the average velocity in time interval 6sec to 12sec ad determine the instantaneous velocity
meaning of the term si units
Chali Reply
what what causes electric current
what what causes electric current
Systeme international unitq@1qa@aaq
Correct one international system of units.
electric dynamo
Electric dynamo is the sources of electric magnetic forces which utilize electromagnetic induction.
A stone is dropped down a well, if it take 5 seconds to reach the water, how dip is the well
Mollamin Reply
an aircraft at as steady velocity of 70m/so eastwards at a height of 800me drops a package of supplies .a, how long will it take for the package to rich the ground? b, how fast will it be going as it lands?
Ng Reply
what is hypothesis theory law
physics is the science of measurement
Jide Reply
What is physics
Victor Reply
what is physics
Good question! Physics is the study of the nature world . Does this help?
physics is the study of matter in relations to energy.
physics is the science of measurements
physics is a science concern with nature and properties of matter and energy
what is a parallelogram law of motion?
describe how you would find the area of an irregular shaped body?
physics is the study of natural phenomena at their most fundamental level
Definition for physics
Adesola Reply
It deal with matter and relation to energy
physics is the Study of matter in relation to energy.
physics is a natural science that study matter its behaviour and relation to energy.
physic tells us more about quantities and measurement also
life as we know it that can be measured and calculated
what is a reference frame
Chukwu Reply
what is anatomy in relation to physics
Mubarak Reply
how does half life exist
Humble Reply
 The amount of time it takes a radioactive isotope to decay into a stable isotope is different for each radioactive isotope, and is characterized by its “half-life”. An isotope's half-life is the amount of time it takes for half the number of atoms of that isotope to decay to another isotope.
what is the difference between Mass and weight
mass is constant while weight varies. unit of mass is kg, unit of weight is newton
how can a coin float in water and what principle governs it
Mercy Reply
in my opinion that work of surface tension but restrictions on coin is that coin do not break surface energy of molecules but some days before scientists prove that's another types of force
which force hold floating coins together thats my confusion
Practice Key Terms 2

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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