The Pisa ex­per­i­ment

Try Galileo’s ground-breaking grav­ity test for your­self!

All About History - - GALILEO VERSUS THE CHURCH -

01 WA­TER BAL­LOONS

Fill two wa­ter bal­loons up but make sure that they dif­fer in mass – the point of the ex­per­i­ment is to test the time of de­scent in re­la­tion to weight.

02 FIND HIGH GROUND

Galileo climbed the Lean­ing Tower of Pisa be­cause he needed height for his ex­per­i­ment. The sec­ond floor of a mod­ern build­ing should work but make sure that no one is stand­ing un­der­neath the win­dow!

03 HEADS up!

While you ready your­self to drop the wa­ter bal­loons from the win­dow, some­one else needs to be on the ground – out of the splash zone and harm’s way – to ob­serve the re­sults.

04 COM­PARE your RE­SULTS

Record the re­sults to see if they hit the ground at the same time, just like in Galileo’s ex­per­i­ment. Try re­peat­ing the ex­per­i­ment with some heav­ier and lighter wa­ter bal­loons so that you can com­pare the out­comes. Dis­claimer: Nei­ther Fu­ture Pub­lish­ing nor its em­ploy­ees can ac­cept li­a­bil­ity for any ad­verse ef­fects ex­pe­ri­enced af­ter car­ry­ing out these projects. Al­ways take care when han­dling po­ten­tially haz­ardous equip­ment or when work­ing with elec­tron­ics and fol­low the man­u­fac­turer’s in­struc­tions.

It is likely that Galileo con­ducted his ex­per­i­ment be­tween 1589 and 1592 as he was a pro­fes­sor of math­e­mat­ics at the Univer­sity of Pisa dur­ing this time. To achieve the height he needed for the ex­per­i­ment, Galileo climbed the Lean­ing Tower of Pisa. To test his the­ory, Galileo dropped can­non­balls of var­i­ous dif­fer­ent sizes and ma­te­ri­als off the tower. When he dropped two can­non­balls of dif­fer­ent masses, they hit the ground at the same time, prov­ing his hy­poth­e­sis.

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