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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Use the kinematic equations with the variables y and g to analyze free-fall motion.
  • Describe how the values of the position, velocity, and acceleration change during a free fall.
  • Solve for the position, velocity, and acceleration as functions of time when an object is in a free fall.

An interesting application of [link] through [link] is called free fall , which describes the motion of an object falling in a gravitational field, such as near the surface of Earth or other celestial objects of planetary size. Let’s assume the body is falling in a straight line perpendicular to the surface, so its motion is one-dimensional. 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. But “falling,” in the context of free fall, does not necessarily imply the body is moving from a greater height to a lesser height. If a ball is thrown upward, the equations of free fall apply equally to its ascent as well as its descent.

Gravity

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. Until Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) proved otherwise, people believed that a heavier object has a greater acceleration in a free fall. We now know this is not the case. In the absence of air resistance, heavy objects arrive at the ground at the same time as lighter objects when dropped from the same height [link] .

Left figure shows a hammer and a feather falling down in air. Hammer is below the feather. Middle figure shows a hammer and a feather falling down in vacuum. Hammer and feather are at the same level. Right figure shows astronaut on the surface of the moon with hammer and a feather lying on the ground.
A hammer and a feather fall with the same constant acceleration if air resistance is negligible. This is a general characteristic of gravity not unique to Earth, as astronaut David R. Scott demonstrated in 1971 on the Moon, where the acceleration from gravity is only 1.67 m/s2 and there is no atmosphere.

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 reaches the ground after a 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, and 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 acceleration due to gravity    . Acceleration due to gravity is constant, which means we can apply the kinematic equations to any falling object where air resistance and friction are negligible. This opens to us a broad class of interesting situations.

Questions & Answers

what is electromagnetism
David Reply
It is the study of the electromagnetic force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature. ... It includes the electric force, which pushes all charged particles, and the magnetic force, which only pushes moving charges.
Energy
what is units?
Subhajit Reply
units as in how
praise
What is th formular for force
Joseph Reply
F = m x a
Santos
State newton's second law of motion
Seth Reply
can u tell me I cant remember
Indigo
force is equal to mass times acceleration
Santos
The acceleration of a system is directly proportional to the and in the same direction as the external force acting on the system and inversely proportional to its mass that is f=ma
David
The uniform seesaw shown below is balanced on a fulcrum located 3.0 m from the left end. The smaller boy on the right has a mass of 40 kg and the bigger boy on the left has a mass 80 kg. What is the mass of the board?
Asad Reply
Consider a wave produced on a stretched spring by holding one end and shaking it up and down. Does the wavelength depend on the distance you move your hand up and down?
Sohail Reply
how can one calculate the value of a given quantity
Helen Reply
means?
Manorama
To determine the exact value of a percent of a given quantity we need to express the given percent as fraction and multiply it by the given number.
AMIT
meaning
Winford
briefly discuss rocket in physics
Ibrahim Reply
ok let's discuss
Jay
What is physics
Nura Reply
physics is the study of natural phenomena with concern with matter and energy and relationships between them
Ibrahim
a potential difference of 10.0v is connected across a 1.0AuF in an LC circuit. calculate the inductance of the inductor that should be connected to the capacitor for the circuit to oscillate at 1125Hza potential difference of 10.0v is connected across a 1.0AuF in an LC circuit. calculate the inducta
Royalty Reply
L= 0.002H
NNAEMEKA
how did you get it?
Favour
is the magnetic field of earth changing
tibebeab Reply
what is thought to be the energy density of multiverse and is the space between universes really space
tibebeab
can you explain it
Guhan
Energy can not either created nor destroyed .therefore who created? and how did it come to existence?
Suzana Reply
this greatly depend on the kind of energy. for gravitational energy, it is result of the shattering effect violent collision of two black holes on the space-time which caused space time to be disturbed. this is according to recent study on gravitons and gravitational ripple. and many other studies
tibebeab
and not every thing have to pop into existence. and it could have always been there . and some scientists think that energy might have been the only entity in the euclidean(imaginary time T=it) which is time undergone wick rotation.
tibebeab
What is projectile?
Nana Reply
An object that is launched from a device
Grant
2 dimensional motion under constant acceleration due to gravity
Awais
Not always 2D Awais
Grant
no comments
Awais
why not? a bullet is a projectile, so is a rock I throw
Grant
bullet travel in x and y comment same as rock which is 2 dimensional
Awais
components
Awais
no all pf you are wrong. projectile is any object propelled through space by excretion of a force which cease after launch
tibebeab
for awais, there is no such thing as constant acceleration due to gravity, because gravity change from place to place and from different height
tibebeab
it is the object not the motion or its components
tibebeab
where are body center of mass on present.
Balwant Reply
on the mid point
Suzana
is the magnetic field of the earth changing?
tibebeab
does shock waves come to effect when in earth's inner atmosphere or can it have an effect on the thermosphere or ionosphere?
tibebeab
and for the question from bal want do you mean human body or just any object in space
tibebeab
A stone is dropped into a well of 19.6m deep and the impact of sound heared after 2.056 second ,find the velocity of sound in air.
Sisco Reply
9.53 m/s ?
Kyla
In this case, the velocity of sound is 350 m/s.
Zahangir
why?
Kyla
some calculations is need. then you will get exact result.
Zahangir
i mean how? isn't it just a d over t?
Kyla
calculate the time it takes the stone to hit the ground then minus the stone's time to the total time... then divide the total distance by the difference of the time
Snuggly
awit lenard. Hahahah ari ga to!
Kyla
Practice Key Terms 2

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Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 1. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12031/1.5
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