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Author Topic: Why can small masses do damage in space?  (Read 1463 times)

Offline thedoc

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Why can small masses do damage in space?
« on: 01/10/2013 22:36:59 »
I saw an astronaut on the shuttle lifting a piece of very heavy equipment with one hand, but they said he had to put it down very slowly, as it could still do a lot of damage.  I donít understand how that could be!
Asked by Connor


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« Last Edit: 01/10/2013 22:36:59 by _system »


 

Offline thedoc

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Why can small masses do damage in space?
« Reply #1 on: 01/10/2013 22:36:59 »
We answered this question on the show...

There are two concepts involved here, which are very often confused.  One of them is weight, which is how heavy things feel, and the other is mass.  Mass can be considered as being how hard it is to accelerate or stop things.  It just happens that the bigger the mass, the heavier the weight, i.e. the amount they are attracted to the Earth; this is because weight is a product of the mass and the strength of gravity.

In orbit, you take away the weight but the mass is still there.  This means that if you try to start it moving, or stop it moving, itís very difficult.  So if you were to throw a hammer at someone on the shuttle, although itís weightless it will still have mass and inertia, and so it will still hurt when it hits!
« Last Edit: 01/10/2013 22:36:59 by _system »
 

Offline gretenov

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Re: Why can small masses do damage in space?
« Reply #2 on: 04/10/2013 20:16:31 »
I find the title and the content confusing. You said in the title "small mass" but in the content, it's "heavy equipment".

--edited-by-gretenov: My baddd, I didn't notice that you are both the thread starter and the second poster ---------

As for small objects, maybe you are referring to those small meteors and space debris that are floating around. In space, the concept of "slow" is relative just like the motion, since slow is but a generic description of motion. Slow here moving in similar or close to the velocity as you do. However, objects in space have been in topsy turvy since the beginning of the solar system, so there's no telling how fast and in what directions they move relative to Earth and to you.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2013 20:23:09 by gretenov »
 

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Re: Why can small masses do damage in space?
« Reply #2 on: 04/10/2013 20:16:31 »

 

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