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# If We Dropped A Billion Balls From The Same Height.

Thu 24 Jun, 2010 05:27 pm
Hi All,

If we dropped a billion balls, of equal size and mass, from a net, 2 miles high, at exactly the same time - would...

1) One ball touch ground first?
2) One ball touch ground last?
3) Any balls touch ground at exactly the same time?

Any and all views or opinions in relation to these questions are welcome indeed.

Thank you.
Kind regards.
Mark...
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Type: Question • Score: 11 • Views: 7,436 • Replies: 49

View best answer, chosen by mark noble
Sentience

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 06:05 pm
@mark noble,
As this is a scientific question, we need to make sure of a lot of things.

Where is this being held, or is it theoretical? If it is theoretical, what are the conditions involving inertia?
mark noble

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 06:13 pm
@Sentience,
Hi Sentience,
Over a concrete expanse, big enough to contain the event, and exactly equal in height from sea-level. All balls are released simultaneously and there are no wind-related factors present.

Kind regards.
Mark...
validity

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 06:16 pm
Hello Mark,

If air resistance is excluded, then in principle, all of the billion balls would touch the ground at exactly the same time.

I say in principle so as to cover the counter argument that “there is no such thing as a perfect sphere” (which I am assuming the billions balls and the earth to be), that spatially separated events can be considered simultaneous etc

Krumple

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 06:17 pm
@mark noble,
mark noble wrote:

Hi All,

If we dropped a billion balls, of equal size and mass, from a net, 2 miles high, at exactly the same time - would...

1) One ball touch ground first?
2) One ball touch ground last?
3) Any balls touch ground at exactly the same time?

Any and all views or opinions in relation to these questions are welcome indeed.

If they were all equal in height, none are on top of each other but placed evenly parallel to the ground so the height for each one of them is equal and also if you don't account for any wind or turbulence of any of them while they fall. All of them will hit the ground at the same time as long as they don't bump into each other as they are falling. Also the ground where they land would also need to be level, because if there were any peaks then of course the ball that landed on the peak would technically hit first.
mark noble

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 06:29 pm
@Krumple,
Hi Krumple,
All is level, no balls can bump into other balls.

There is a camera at ground level with an atomic shutter speed.

Mark...
0 Replies

mark noble

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 06:31 pm
@validity,
Hi Validity,
They can be squares, if you like.

Kind regards
Mark...
0 Replies

rosborne979

3
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 06:40 pm
@mark noble,
In the real world, one ball will touch first, one will touch last, and none will ever touch at exactly the same time.

In a theoretical world, all balls will always touch at exactly the same time.
mark noble

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 06:45 pm
@rosborne979,
Hi Rosborne.
Thank you. It is the real world answer I am interested in.
Would this account for any quantity of balls (objects)?
Can we apply this as absolute fact?

Have a great everything Rosborne.
Mark...
rosborne979

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 06:52 pm
@mark noble,
mark noble wrote:

Thank you. It is the real world answer I am interested in.
Would this account for any quantity of balls (objects)?

In the real world, yes.
mark noble wrote:
Can we apply this as absolute fact?

In religion you have certainty without proof.
In science you have proof without certainty.

Have fun Mark.
Sentience

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 07:16 pm
@mark noble,
Quote:
Hi Sentience,
Over a concrete expanse, big enough to contain the event, and exactly equal in height from sea-level. All balls are released simultaneously and there are no wind-related factors present.

Kind regards.
Mark...

Hey, Mark, 'sup?

The thing is that there still might be more particles between one ball and the ground then the other ball and the ground, making one of them hit the ground faster.

Also, it would be very hard to make them all be released at the same time using a net. I would suggest using a billion retractable metal platforms that would all be retracted at the same time (timed by an atomic clock), all balls contained within a vacuum.

- Gabe, Gabriel, Voidherald, Sentience, Orranis, or whatever name you may know me by.
markr

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 07:36 pm
@mark noble,
The balls will follow a path toward the center of mass of the Earth. They will not fall perpendicular to a plane on the Earth's surface. The distribution of the balls and the target surface must be portions of spheres that are centered at the Earth's center of mass.
Sentience

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 07:41 pm
@markr,
Ah yes, forgot about this as well. Never mind, it's impossible in this universe, simply because some of the balls will be closer to the centers of gravity of other objects, no matter how distant, and fall towards the platform (presuming it has enough gravity to drag it away from the larger yet more distant bodies) at faster or slower rates.
0 Replies

mark noble

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 08:11 pm
@Sentience,
Hi Gabriel,
I like that name! I also like Sentience too, though!
??????

Hi Sentience,
Retractable metal platforms, atomic clock, and vacuum all accepted. Thank you - Please re-read post with new variables in place.

Have a great day Sentience!!!
Mark...
0 Replies

validity

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 08:15 pm
@mark noble,
mark noble wrote:
It is the real world answer I am interested in.
Would this account for any quantity of balls (objects)?
Can we apply this as absolute fact?

What do you mean by the real world answer?

In the OP you control the ball size, mass, drop height and time. If you do not control the other factors that affect the situation (e.g. air resistance) then the results of one billion balls dropped will not be able to be compared to the results of the second run of the same billion balls dropped.

Is there any basis for identifying any result in the OP setup as an absolute fact, unless all variables are controlled?
mark noble

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 08:39 pm
@validity,
validity wrote:

mark noble wrote:
It is the real world answer I am interested in.
Would this account for any quantity of balls (objects)?
Can we apply this as absolute fact?

What do you mean by the real world answer?

That the event takes place in the real world

In the OP you control the ball size, mass, drop height and time. If you do not control the other factors that affect the situation (e.g. air resistance) then the results of one billion balls dropped will not be able to be compared to the results of the second run of the same billion balls dropped.

I agree

Is there any basis for identifying any result in the OP setup as an absolute fact, unless all variables are controlled?

No. All variables are subject to change.

Thank you once more, Validity.
Kind regards.
Mark...
validity

1
Thu 24 Jun, 2010 10:25 pm
@mark noble,
Hmmm, from this example, have we reached "an absolute fact can not be found in the real world"?

0 Replies

1
Fri 25 Jun, 2010 01:19 am
G'day mark.
Quote:
It is the real world answer I am interested in.

It seems to me you have placed many so conditions on your experiment that cannot be possibly be in a real world.

Wind factors, air resistance, perfect spheres, arcs related to earth curvature and gravity all impact. All the above have been mentioned by other posters as real world factors.

I'm no scientist so i wont even attempt an answer.

0 Replies

Soul Brother

2
Fri 25 Jun, 2010 02:20 am
@rosborne979,
mark noble wrote:

Hi All,

If we dropped a billion balls, of equal size and mass, from a net, 2 miles high, at exactly the same time - would...

1) One ball touch ground first?
2) One ball touch ground last?
3) Any balls touch ground at exactly the same time?

Of course in the real world, 1, 2 and 3 with equal probability of all sets of combinations of 1,2 and 3.

rosborne979 wrote:

In the real world, one ball will touch first, one will touch last, and none will ever touch at exactly the same time.

What would lead you to think that out of 1 billion balls, none could possibly land at precisely the same time? it actually seems rather unlikely that such a thing would happen.
sarek

2
Fri 25 Jun, 2010 02:31 am
The real world answer would of course be that there are always minor fluctuations.
But the theoretical answer seems to be a bit more interesting. I think if we strictly follow Newton and Einstein all the balls should impact at the same moment.
But we know that Einstein is not the final word when it comes to the theory of everything. Somehow gravity must be quantised in some way which means there must be some kind of minimum possible error. The size of that error can be derived from the Heisenberg equations.

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