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The Physics of a Not so Constant Gravity



blog-0186348001397180170.jpgIn physics we assume that gravity is a constant. In fact we represent this constant with the letter g and the numerical value of 9.81m/s2. Almost everything we learned this year works on the assumption that gravity is constant on the surface of the earth. There is no reason to assume other-wise after all we don't just see objects floating randomly as we take a stroll down the street. We use physics and its assumption of constant gravity- on the earth's surface- to create a lot of our technology today. But what if gravity on the surface of the earth wasn't constant? Many of our technologies would be rendered useless while other would become very amusing. So here are some fun things to think about if we all woke up one day and gravity was no longer constant.

When your alarm clock beeps in the morning waking you up for school there are many fates you may encounter. If the gravity was lower then 9.81m/s2 then you might not wake up in your bed at all. Instead you could be floating in your sleep. Just think about how much room you could save without the need for a bed! If gravity however was at a larger magnitude then 9.81m/s2 then you would be pulled down to the surface of the earth with greater force. If the force was great enough it could leave you immobile. Hey, I guess that means you don't have to go to school!

Let go to the next phase of the day. Unfortunately, most mornings I have to walk to the school in the mornings. However with a smaller magnitude of gravity I could take less steps! Although similar to walking on the moon this process would take a lot longer. If gravity all of a sudden gravity shifted to a greater magnitude, even just lifting my foot off the ground would take tremendous effort.

For those of you dieting I have both good news and bad news. A world in which gravity is always shifting means your weight is always shifting. Take note that its your weight and not your mass which shifts. Mass is a measure of the space you take up- how many particles. Weight is the measure of mass multiplied by gravity. If you were to stand in a spot of low gravity then you lost weight! however, take one step to the right and you've gained more weight in a single second then ever thought possible!

Last scenario. You're in class at school and your teacher tells you to pass up your homework. In a situation with gravity of an extremely low magnitude you could argue, "I tried to do my homework last night but it kept pushing me away." In a situation with no gravity newton's 3rd law has a field day. This law states for ever action there is a opposite and equal reaction. As you try to touch you homework, your homework pushes back at you with an equal reaction. Due to the extremely low gravity the reaction might actually cause you be pushed away. Then gravity shifts to a grater magnitude and your teacher tells you to do your homework. In this scenario you simply complain, "The force of gravity was so strong that the force I exerted on my pen was not great enough. In this process of trying to create a force stronger then the force of gravity it seems I have sprained my wrist.... both of my wrists."


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