Sunday, May 10, 2009

Question of the Day: 58

If you jump up in the air in a spaceship, and just stay free-falling while the spaceship keeps moving in the same direction, eventually would you drift towards the back of the spaceship if you waited long enough?

See, if you're standing, say, in a bus, and you jump up, technically you jump up-and-forward -- because the bus and you are traveling forward, so you jump in an arc and land in the same spot on the bus because you're moving forward at the same rate as the bus.

But that's for a short jump, when your inertia carries you forward while gravity carries you downward.

But say it's a really long jump... like in space. So I'm on the space shuttle, heading towards Jupiter, and it's under full throttle, and I jump up. And stay up. For days, weeks, months, years. The space shuttle continues to accelerate, but I don't, right? Or does the air push me forward?

Because I think eventually I'm going to be smushed against the back of the space shuttle.

This question occurred to me during the episode of Little Einsteins in which one of Saturn's rings falls to Earth and the Einsteins have to put it back, getting into trouble along the way when asteroids start coming towards them and they have to use giant drumsticks to bat the asteroids away.

1 comment:

lisapepin said...

Damn you. Now I'm going to have to find my "Baby Einstein and the Coriolis Effect" DVD and look this up.