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Q & A: Falling at Rates

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
How does the size of an object affect the rate in which it falls?
- Sue (age 10)
Mt. Airy, Md. U.S.
A:
It depends on what's around. If the things are falling in a vacuum they all fall at just the same rate.

If things are falling in air, friction with the air slows them down. That's most important for small, light objects.

It's said that when Galileo dropped two metal balls from the leaning tower of Pisa, the heavier one landed an inch or two ahead of the lighter one. That would be because air friction slowed the lighter one a little more.

(published on 10/22/2007)

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