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Name: Vic
Status: other
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

I was wondering if I held a baseball and then a small moon both 10000 feet high and dropped them would they close the gap between themselves and and the earth in equal time. I guess what I'm really asking is, do objects of different sizes really fall at precisely 32 feet per second squared? I ask because I read that all objects have an attraction to each other.

All objects with mass attract each other by gravity. The rate at which they accelerate toward each other is NOT universally 32 ft/s^2. That's just the acceleration experienced by a relatively light (compared to the earth) object at the earth's surface. In fact, the attraction between two objects depends on the masses of the objects divided by the square of the distance between their centers of mass. So, if you move far enough away from the surface of the earth, your gravitational acceleration toward the earth will diminish.

So, in answer to the first part of the question, the speed at which your tennis ball and moon approach each other will depend on their masses and their separation. Chances are that it WON'T be the same rate at which they fall toward the earth.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois

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