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back to article Isaac Newton's apple tree off to spaaaace

A fragment of the apple tree said to have inspired Isaac Newton's theory of gravity will this week fly on space shuttle Atlantis's STS-132 mission to the International Space Station. The Royal Society in London has entrusted the 10-cm chunk, along with a picture of Newton, to Brit-born astronaut Piers Sellers, as part of the …

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FAIL

Gravity

Sellers enthused: “While it’s up there, it will be experiencing no gravity."

Er, yes it will. Pretty hard to avoid gravity, especially when you're flying not far above a large body like the Earth.

I daresay Sellers is well aware there is a difference between 'micro-gravity' (which is obviously what he, the ISS and this alleged piece of Newton tree will be experiencing) and 'no' gravity, and I would have thought there is little harm from saying it as it is rather than making up physics.

Dumbed-down just for Britain, perhaps?

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Pint

Poor sods can't win!

Jeez, we all moan when people aren't interested in science, so the minute a scientist actually speaks the language to engage the average punter, we all groan and whip out our pedant hats!

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Boffin

You're missing the point.

It's no good getting people interested in Science by telling them *the wrong things*. That's just counter productive.

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Iindeed

“We’re delighted to take this piece of Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree to orbit. While it’s up there, it will be experiencing no gravity"

Lessons learned here....

If you are making a public statement then at least make sure that you have the slightest comprehesion of what you're talking about rather than just asking your mate with a degree in media studies who replies "yeah, cos there's no gravity in space is there".

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Anonymous Coward

Laws of motion?

"as it would have proved his first law of motion to be correct" - erm no, it wouldn't. It would prove the SECOND law of motion to be correct.

"A body experiencing a force F experiences an acceleration a related to F by F = ma, where m is the mass of the body. Alternatively, force is equal to the time derivative of momentum." - where force is zero (no gravity) then the acceleration should be zero.

The first law of motion is usually expressed as "an object in motion, remains in motion" - inertia, this can't really be proven by having something "not fall" it can be proven by throwing something out of the space station and watching it continue ad infinitum

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Boffin

I'll take the bait

You've completely missed the point..... the wrong word in the initial sentence was "proved"

A single experiment doesn't _prove_ anything..

Proof requires an awful lot more than that.

The famous laws of motion claim to apply to any massive* object (my sixth form physics teacher didn't like the word 'body' as it conjures up images of cadavers floating in space)... this experiment will only prove that the laws apply to a particular object in orbit around another (significantly larger) object.

And that's without pointing out the fact that playing with something in space can be used to explain all 3 laws of motion: inertia, f=ma and equal-opposite forces.

*massive as in: 'has mass', rather than referring to size. Yes, I mean mass and not weight.

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Anonymous Coward

experiencing no gravity

"While it's up there, it will be experiencing no gravity, so if it had an apple on it, the apple wouldn't fall."

That's so untrue. It WILL be experiencing gravity, and it WILL fall. Anything in orbit is in free fall.

If it did not experience gravity, it would move in a straight line, as predicted by Sir Isaac Newton. The Royal Society would never see its twig again.

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Gold badge

Hmm....

Nasa allocating poundage for this stunt sounds like an acknowledgement of the debt they owe Newton to me.

That being so, the estate of the late Sir Isaac Newton should apply for and obtain a retrospective patent on Newtonian Physics. They should then bill NASA for the free ride on his IP that they've enjoyed for so long.

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Pint

It is experiencing gravity!

Without gravity it wouldn't orbit the Earth.

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Coat

Dummed down

Too right !

Anything on board the ISS is in a constant free fall, Newton's tree included.

How about sending a copy of Wireless World up to 36,000km with it's page opened at Arthur C Clarke's article facing towards earth :-)

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Boffin

ooooh... that's dry

I imagine Newton might had a thing or two to say about slagging people off for making up physics ;)

blue scientist man, because only he laughs at my jokes :(

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FAIL

title

If it's experiencing "no gravity", perhaps Mr. Sellers could explain what's keeping it in orbit.

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Grenade

Tree story

I was also under the impression that Mr. Newton first started telling that story 20 years after it happened. If this is true, it's quite likely that he got a bit creative with the truth.

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Pint

Sheldon

"Gravity would have been apparent to me without the apple"

Bazinga..

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Happy

There is no apple

In fact, the apple incident was made up by Newton, upon a reporter's insisting on how he had come upon the whole Gravitational idea. It does make for a nice story, though, and it has permeated as part of common knowledge.

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is required.

Can we have a pedants corner?

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pedants corner

It will only lead to arguments about whether it needs an apostrophe or not, and if yes, then where to put it.

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Headmaster

Re: pedantry corner

You forget that if that ever gets settled, the next argument is about whether where it is placed actually qualifies as a corner, or whether it is in fact a column, a box, a forum or whatever........

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Pedantry?

This is akin to promoting Christianity by talking about the crucifixion of Santa Claus. Genocides have been committed for less.

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Thumb Down

Anyway, back to the article...

What a waste of time and effort (the exercise, not the article)

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Happy

Oh smile...

Captain Bringdown and the Buzzkillers.

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Pint

Oi Loikes Cider

What type of apples does the tree produce? Sweet, sour, eating, cooking etc.

Do they make good Cider?

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Joke

Good cider?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower_of_Kent

Apparently not...probably used for Magners (you did say /good/ Cider)

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Troll

Of course there's no gravity

As any fule kno, there is no gravity anywhere in space, which is why astronauts need gravity boots. The exception, of course, is secret military space stations where they produce artificial gravity using graviton accelerators.

In any case, gravity only ever applies because of the natural order of the elements: earth at the bottom, then water, air and fire. Each element spends its time trying to get to its proper place in the natural order. This explains why the sun is in the sky, not in the sea. In space, there is no natural order as there is no up or down, which is why it won't work.

Judging by the troll's hair, the photo must have been taken in a zero gravity environment.

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