Most of you know that any two objects dropped in a vacuum will fall at the same rate. Some of you have probably even seen it demonstrated in person. But you've never seen this classic experiment reproduced in the world's biggest vacuum chamber – and you really should.
Physicist Brian Cox of the BBC Two program Human Universe recently visited the world’s largest vacuum chamber at NASA’s Space Power Facility outside of Sandusky, Ohio, to demonstrate the effects of air on falling objects. In the video, a feather and bowling ball are dropped at the same time in normal Earth conditions and after the air has been removed from the room.
The best thing about this video is the reaction it elicits from Cox and the engineers. Everyone knows how the experiment will end. Like us, they've been told what to expect. Like us, many of them have seen it demonstrated on a smaller scale. But something about watching a bowling ball and feathers fall from a great height, together, side by side, makes them gawk, giggle, and grin like children. I think that's kind of wonderful.