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Unveiling the Non-Intuitive Realities of Simple Physics Experiments on Earth


Specific Earth-based physics experiments have produced results that directly oppose the current state of knowledge. This article examines two experiments demonstrating timed landing durations for two balls shot at various initial horizontal velocities. The tests were conducted within the context of measuring the acceleration of a ball that was thrown upwards at the point when the vertical speed was zero.

Experiment 1: Acceleration of a Ball Tossed Upwards

Students in a traditional physics lab often measure the acceleration of a projectile after the projectile has been launched upwards in the air. This is done when the projectile’s vertical velocity is zero (Serway & Jewett, 2018). Since the acceleration should have been zero at the most significant point of the ball’s flight, this conclusion violates logic since it is impossible to have occurred. They have stated that such should not be the case. According to the second law of motion that Newton developed, the net force exerted on an object may be calculated by multiplying the object’s acceleration by its mass.

If you shoot anything high in the air, it will fall to the ground because of gravity. In its last moments before changing direction, the ball briefly stops moving at the peak of its flight. (Young & Freedman, 2016). The item is still subject to gravity even when it experiences zero vertical velocity temporarily. You may make sense of the seeming contradiction when you consider that the acceleration due to gravity is constant and that the ball is still being pulled downward by gravity even when its speed is zero.

Experiment 2: Different Initial Horizontal Velocities and Time to Hit the Ground

In another experiment, the amount of time it takes for two spheres to descend from a horizontal surface that they both share at different speeds at the beginning of the experiment is also observed (Serway & Jewett, 2018). It is a natural assumption that the projectile with a more significant horizontal velocity at the beginning of its trajectory will touch the ground more rapidly. However, the fact that gravity is dragging both spheres upward means that this is not the case.

No projectile may go in either a vertical or horizontal direction simultaneously. When air resistance is ignored, the horizontal velocity stays the same, but the vertical velocity is affected by the force of gravity (Serway & Jewett, 2018). The vertical gravitational acceleration of the two spheres is the same regardless of their horizontal velocities. As a result, both balls fall vertically at the same rate, but the one with the more incredible horizontal velocity travels a longer horizontal distance before hitting the ground.


These seemingly conflicting results are based on fundamental physical research on Earth and sum up the basic ideas of classical mechanics. Even when the vertical velocity of a thrown projectile suddenly stops, the findings of the first experiment show that gravitational acceleration remains. The second experiment adds to the mounting evidence that the only factor influencing flight time is the vertical motion of the projectile as a function of gravity, lending credence to the idea that the horizontal and vertical components of projectile motion are separate. Gaining insight into these occurrences deepens our knowledge of classical mechanics and highlights the significance of using the principles while analyzing experimental results. These tests become more reasonable if one applies Newtonian physics and acknowledges the presence of forces like gravity.


Serway, R. A., & Jewett, J. W. (2018). Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics (10th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Young, H. D., & Freedman, R. A. (2016). University Physics with Modern Physics (14th ed.). Pearson.


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