Free Fall From Heights

Free Fall From Heights

Ever since we were introduced to science, we knew what it meant to have a free fall. It is no unknown fact to us, as to who discovered the great concept of free fall. Needless to say, no better man on the face of this earth could have done this any better than Galileo himself.


Galileo conducted a series of tests and analysis before concluding the concept of free fall. According to Galileo, each and everybody underwent free fall at the same rate irrespective of their mass or the material they were made of. Galileo dropped a number of pens from the Leaning Tower of Pisa made of different mass and material and concluded the above theory. 

Based on Galileo’s initial studies and findings, scientists later defined the term of free fall. Freefall thus had a particular and generalized definition that was recognized and accepted worldwide.

Freefall is thus the phenomenon that says, anybody encounters free fall when it has only the force of gravity acting on it. Whenever a body undergoes free fall, the speed of the body,  not at any part of the decent is controlled or slowed down by any engineered device -namely the parachute.

Thus from this definition, we can say that the moon, not under the influence of any force but the gravitational force of the earth alone is at free fall.

Free Fall From Heights
Free Fall From Heights

Contribution Of Scientists In Discovering The Phenomenon Of Free Fall:

The concept of the phenomenon of free fall was discovered almost 300 years ago. Galileo, as already mentioned, is thought to be the pioneer behind the invention of this scientific discovery.

Initially, Aristotle, the great physicist, inferred and deduced that in the atmosphere, heavier objects fall faster than the lighter objects. After the vivid explanation of free fall, Galileo in his books mentioned that all bodies irrespective of their weights and mass come under the force of gravity of the earth at an acceleration rate of 9.8m/s2.

The books are written by Galileo namely the Two New Sciences and On Motion now are the foundation of the subject of physics.

Free Fall From Heights
Free Fall From Heights

Galileo’s Experiment:

Galileo’s experiment involved considering a system of bodies that consisted of a light object and a comparatively heavier object. When thrown from the heights of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, according to Aristotle’s assumption, the string that held the two objects together would get tighter and would get stretched.

Additionally, This was because the heavier object would then have a tendency to fall faster than the lighter one. The lighter object would, in turn, decelerate the fall of the total system and cause the string to be tight. 

On the contrary, the whole system, on the other hand, has a greater mass than each individual object of the system and would thus fall at a faster pace. Thus the assumptions were proved to be wrong. This, in turn, established Galileo’s assumptions and discovery.

Astronaut David Scott performed a more or less similar experiment but in space. During the Apollo mission in 1971, he took a feather and hammer in space and dropped them at the same time and force.

Due to no negligible existence of the lunar atmosphere, he found that the feather and the hammer hit the ground at the same time. Thus proving Aristotle’s assumptions to be wrong.

Newtonian Mechanics:

After involving a lot of studies and calculations, Issac Newton deduced certain equations of motion that were related to anybody undergoing the free fall.

The Newton’s equation of motions helps us to find the time of decent and ascend, the speed or velocity of the body and distance covered only under the consideration that acceleration due to gravity is fixed to 9.8m/s2. The Newtonian equations are of utmost importance and build the foundation of science.

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