# Ask-a-Physicist by Topic

## Force & Motion

In general relativity, gravity is described as a distortion of space time. Most vulgarized books use the simplified image of a 2D plane being bent downwards by a mass, so that any matter traveling in the area would have to follow the bending of the plane, which would then explain why things are attracted to one another.

Keeping the same simplified metaphor, could we imagine something that would bend the plane upwards, thus causing objects to be repelled? Would such a thing be considered to have negative mass? Is the concept theoretically possible?

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I understand what happens and why, when I drop a tennis ball that is resting on top of a basketball. What I am trying to figure out is, why do I not get the same results with a ping pong ball on top of a basket ball. Any ideas?

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If a person stepped on a home bathroom scale, and weighed 170 lbs, he would weigh a different weight on this same scale when on other planets due to the force of gravity.

If, however, a person stepped on a professional medical scale — the kind with weights attached that you slide (as opposed to a bathroom scale) and weighed 170 pounds on Earth, would the weight of the person be the same on the other planets as it is on Earth (170 lbs)? This has become a bone of contention in an otherwise ideal marriage.

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If air is heated and its starts to go towards the space, what is the reason for this? Do you think the air molecules will get accelerated and because of this they will resist Earth’s gravitational force?

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I've read that orbiting objects like the space station stay in orbit because they are falling at the same rate the Earth is curving away underneath them.

What I don’t understand is their downward velocity should be increasing because it is caused by gravity / acceleration due to gravity. Shouldn’t it be “falling” with a greater velocity the longer it travels? Does it reach a terminal velocity like that of a skydiver? If so Why?

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Under acceleration, a helium-filled balloon inside of a car will jump forward in the direction of acceleration. I have been searching for the reason why with no definitive results. This is the dilemma: An acquaintance of mine, who has a degree from Johns Hopkins is attempting to argue for some magical force that drives the balloon forward, also that it has something to do with gravity.

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I’m not a physics guy, but with all the discussion around the disaster in Oklahoma recently it had me pondering a terminal velocity question. From what I understand, any object with mass would possess a terminal velocity.

Since air has mass, what would be the terminal velocity of air? Specifically, how fast can a tornado/hurricane/natural disaster hurl air before it reaches a terminal velocity?

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In figure skating, if you are doing a spin on ice and you leave your arms spread out it creates resistance. If you pull the arms in toward the body, you create less resistance so you spin more easily. How do I express this with mathematical equations in physics?

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If somehow there was a tunnel straight through the center of the earth and we dropped a capsule through it, what will happen to the capsule? Would the tunnel shoot the capsule into space?

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When we talk about an object on an incline, the force of gravity has two components, one vertical and one parallel to the incline, as you know, while the normal force is matched in magnitude by the vertical component of gravity. When we talk about a banked road, however, the normal force becomes the force whose both components are considered, while gravity becomes the force that is matched by the vertical component of normal force. In a way, they almost reverse their roles. Why is that?

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If a helicopter hovers in a fixed position for 24 hours will the earth rotate around it?

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What are the scientific reasons for spin or curve on a soccer ball? What forces are affecting this?

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