How, when, and where can you find Zero Gravity?

How, when, and where can you find Zero Gravity?

Humans might be able to fly as scientists continue their work on Zero Gravity.

Zero gravity is the state in which there is no apparent force of gravity acting on a body, either because the force is locally weak, or because both the body and its surroundings are freely and equally accelerating under the force. As we have not been able to produce any technology that can reduce or eliminate local gravity, the only option we are left with is the artificial zero gravity.

Artificial Zero Gravity, also known as weightlessness, is when we do not feel the gravitational pull. That happens when there are no forces that are working against the gravity. For example, a book resting on a table is experiencing two forces, a downward gravitational pull and an upward balancing force by the surface of the table. Zero gravity would be attained when all objects present in an environment are facing the same gravitational pull. Here it is pertinent to mention that we are talking about a, smaller, local environment because till now we are unable to do anything to eliminate gravity on a massive level. And this brings us to the next point; how zero gravity can be achieved.

One simple way to experience weightlessness is by the way of a free fall. A sky-diver, before he has opened his parachute, experiences weightlessness because in his local environment he is the only object, which is accelerating at a constant rate. However, once he opens his parachute, the parachute would now resist the downward gravitational pull and as a result, he will feel gravity. Moreover, zero gravity would also occur in satellites because they are moving at a constant acceleration in their orbits and that acceleration is equal to that of the gravitational pull of the body that they are orbiting.

The persons and objects inside will feel weightlessness because the whole local environment including all of its components would be moving with the same acceleration. Another method to achieve Microgravity, which is normally used for astronaut training by space agencies such as NASA, is spacewalks in a specific swimming pool called the ‘Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory’. The buoyancy of the fluid also imitates the weightlessness in a zero-gravity field.

Recently, a US-based company ‘Zero-G’ has started a commercial service for the public to experience the feel of zero gravity. They offer plane rides that move in hyperbolic curves. Initially, the plane reaches a standard altitude of 24000 feet. From there it accelerates at an angle of 45 degrees up to a height of 32000 feet. At that height, the plane stabilizes itself and passengers experience 25-30 seconds of weightlessness till the plane begin its downward journey. They can float around in the plane just like astronauts do in the space. The plane descends at an angle of 45 degrees back to its standard height of 24000 feet and thus completes one parabola. During the rise and descent, passengers face 1.8 times more gravity than normal gravity they face on earth. A single ride contains 15 such parabolic laps.

The state of weightlessness is not native for our body and hence it does not bode well for it. That is the reason why the majority of the people are rejected in the Astronaut recruitment tests as their body is not strong enough to bear the consequences of spending time in the microgravity of space. It can cause problems in bone formation, vision, and has adverse effects on the heart muscles.

Apart from the problems and the dangers it can cause, if being exposed to it for an extended period of time, achieving weightlessness still bears a lot of significance. Firstly, it is very helpful in finding the right people for the job of astronaut and in providing a virtual zero-gravity environment for their training. Secondly, it is used for recreational purposes like in roller-coasters and zero-gravity flights.

In addition to these uses, if we are able to create a controlled real anti-gravity technology in the future, it would be one of the biggest revolutions in the field of science and technology. It would be helpful in the movement of heavy objects. It would also open new avenues in the medical field especially for the elderly suffering from joint pains. It could even help us, the human beings, to fly! What more can we even dream of?

Computer Scientist by qualification who loves to read, write, eat, and travel

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