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mdxi (4658)

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Journal of mdxi (4658)

Tuesday December 23, 2003
08:01 PM


[ #16482 ]
I collect (among other things) old textbooks. Reading them can be hilarious and/or maddening. Here's a question for you from a 1876 Natural Philosophy (that's *Physics* to all you young whippersnappers):

II. The weight of a body decreases as the square of its distance from the centre of the Earth increases. Therefore, if a body at the surface of the Earth (4000 miles above the centre) weighs 100 pounds, what would that same object weigh 1000 miles above the Earth's surface (5000 miles above the centre)?

Now one might think that since LEO is around 100 miles and high geosynch orbit is around 250, that something at a THOUSAND miles up would be very very very close indeed to weighing nothing at all. And one would have gotten this question wrong.

The answer, as the mathematics clearly show, is 64 pounds.

Maybe later on I'l post some other snippets.

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  • that astronauts experience weightlessness because they are so far from the gravitational field of the earth. Not true. Astronauts experience weightlessness because objects in orbit are in free-fall. Much like you might experience weightlessness in a free-falling elevator.

    To understand orbit, throw an object and note the arc it takes before it hits the earth. If you can make the point at which it would hit the earth beyond the curvature of the earth in that direction, the object would reach orbit (disre