Monday, April 15, 2013

Inspiring Science: Falling faster than gravity

In 2011, a team of physicists at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York showed that when a falling chain hits something (say, a table), it might, contrary to all intuition, speed up and fall faster than it would if it fell freely. By carefully studying its mechanics, they showed how the impact could actually pull the remainder of the chain downwards. As this picture from their experiment shows, they were right. The two strange-looking chains were simultaneously dropped from the same height, but the one on the left, which fell into a pile on a table, fell faster than an identical chain falling past the table.

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