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Playing with the forces of nature

What goes up, must come down … right?

What about if you’re in a space ship, far from the Earth – which way is down then?

Up and down are ideas that work for us because we’re living on a planet. It’s an incredible thought but every object with mass attracts every other object with mass. Right now, you (a relatively small mass) are attracting and being attracted by a relatively large mass (the Earth). So “down” is “down” on Earth because you are being pulled towards the centre of the planet. If you’re a long way from the Earth, then down would be … well, much harder to say!

Do you ever wonder what would it be like if we could switch gravity on and off at will? Imagine what a difference it would make next time you want to rearrange the furniture in your bedroom.

Here’s another ‘what if’ idea – this one is a game in which you can change the force of friction between surfaces, just by moving a slider.

It’s called, Penguin drop – but at the moment, it only works in Explorer (sorry). Close the window to close the game when you’ve finished.

© 2011 LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion)