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Displacement During Uniform Acceleration

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Falling From Space

Falling From Space

Credit: U.S. Air Force
Source: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kittinger-jump.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

In 1960, Capt. Joseph Kittinger stepped off the Excelsior platform, 31 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. He fell for approximately 4 minutes and 36 seconds and reached a maximum speed of 614 miles per hour!

Why It Matters

  • Any object that is dropped near the surface of the earth will accelerate towards the earth. If you were to ignore the effects due to air resistance, every dropped object would fall and accelerate at the same rate. This is known as the acceleration due to gravity and any object falling at such a rate is said to be in free fall. By looking at Newton?s 2nd law, the weight of an object is defined by the following equation: 

\overrightarrow{W}=m \overrightarrow{g}

  • The acceleration due to gravity, a fundamental concept of classical physics, only acts along the axis which is perpendicular to the surface of the earth. When looking at real-world applications of two-dimensional motion, torque, and even work, the concept of free fall and the acceleration due to gravity must be taken into consideration.

Credit: Carla MacNeil
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9363874@N07/1039697905
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A bungee jumper accelerates towards earth [Figure2]

 

Can You Apply It?

Using the information provided above, answer the following questions.

  1. Why is it okay to ignore air resistance for objects under the influence of gravity for small distance but not large distances?
  2. Explain why it is important to consider the acceleration due to gravity of an object that is thrown across a room when you are trying to determine the distance the object will travel.
  3. If one were to consider air resistance on an object that is falling, would the velocity of the object be faster or slower when compared to an object that is falling without air resistance?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: U.S. Air Force; Source: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kittinger-jump.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Carla MacNeil; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9363874@N07/1039697905; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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