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  Don't belittle gravityJan 14, 2011 2:27 AM PST | url
 
Added 2 new A* pages:On page 114, the smoke from the gun barrel isn't wafting upwards, it's just tracing the movement of her hand downwards—or at least, that's what I was trying to draw. Anyway since the ship is in free fall here, there's no "up" in the pressurized cabin where the smoke would go, so it will just disperse gradually wherever it is left, unless it's blown somewhere.
 
This got me wondering if I could find any pictures or videos of smoke or vapor in zero gravity, but all could find was footage of flames, like this:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZTl7oi05dQ
 
Notice that the video description carefully calls it "microgravity," which is the NASA-approved term; it's supposed to be making the point that there's always some gravitational force at work no matter where you are in the universe, so there's never really "zero" gravity, but I think this is a case of pedantic people overthinking semantics: "microgravity" is harder to say, and I don't see how it's any less confusing, because it makes it sound like there's some really small gravitational force around rather than a big one like the Earth, which isn't what it means at all; what these terms are trying to say is that gravity is the only force acting on the object, and is only felt in one direction, so to the object, it feels like there is no gravity, because they're just floating along—which is why "free fall" is really the best term, I guess, but still people know what the heck is meant by "zero gravity," so why complicate things by trying to invent new and longer words?
 
Anyway! People get microgravity aka zero gravity like you see with that flame either in orbit around the Earth, which is the most sustainable type of free fall available to us, or at the apex of a plane flight (NASA's "Vomit Comet" plane for astronaut training), or in "drop towers," where an object, rigged up with cameras or sensors or whatnot, is dropped from a great big height, and shielded from wind resistance by a floating outer shell. NASA's Glenn Microgravity Drop Facility is one such drop tower, and it kind of has its own YouTube channel, where this video does a pretty good job of showing how it works (you drop stuff down a big chute! yay for rocket science :), and this one goes through the particulars of how candles work in gravity.
 
 
 
 
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