Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: magnetism and gravity?

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 12/04/2011
A retired scientist commented that magnetism and gravity are "cousins". Forcing 2 opposing magnets together with bolts, then putting these inside a hallowed out rock. Taking this rock and a rock with no opposing magnet inside, dropping both off a second story building. The observation: the rock without the opposing magnets will hit the ground first. Why and how? Gravity passes around the wide magnetic force of the opposing magnets creating a somewhat controlled levity? Gravity passes around the magnetic field. If so,how is that possible if they are not somehow related, or is it that gravity has the ability to "know" and go around the magnetic field.?
- Elizabeth (age 68)

I think that the first thing to straighten out is that experiment. The only reason the two rocks would fall at different rates is air friction. If one rock is partially hollow, that decreases the gravity to friction ratio and slightly slows the fall. If you took two identical balls and put identical magnets in them, one pair opposing and the other attracting, you'd find that they'd fall just the same way.

So there's really no effect to explain.

Mike W.

(published on 12/04/2011)

Follow-up on this answer.