How fast something falls due to gravity is determined by a number known as the "acceleration of gravity", which is 9.81 m/s^2 at the surface of our Earth. Basically this means that in one second, any object
's downward velocity will increase by 9.81 m/s because of gravity. This is just the way gravity works - it accelerates everything at exactly the same rate.
What you may be getting confused by is the fact that the force
of gravity is stronger on heavier objects than lighter ones. Another way of thinking of this is to say that gravity has to pull harder on a heavy object than a light one in order to speed them both up by the same amount.
However, in the real world, we have things like air resistance, which is why sometimes heavy things do fall faster. For example, if you drop a feather and you drop a rock, the rock will land first since the feather is slowed down more by the air. If you did the same thing somewhere where there is no air, the feather and the rock would land at exactly the same time.
p.s. Although Galileo noticed that different things fall at the same rate, there was really no explanation of why until General Relativity was developed. If you would like us to try to say something about how that explanation works, we could make an attempt. mike w
(republished on 07/12/06)