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From a Balloon (Posted on 2005-07-07) Difficulty: 3 of 5
If a stone is dropped from a balloon on a still day, does the stone fall directly below the balloon, or to the west or east of it?

No Solution Yet Submitted by Erik O.    
Rating: 3.0000 (5 votes)

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Some Thoughts My toughts | Comment 3 of 33 |

I am sorry I am not sure exactly what you are asking here.  When you say a still day, I assume you mean no wind to carry the balloon away (and the stone however slight).  In that case the stone and the balloon would fall at the same rate and be at the same place on the ground.  One might errantly suggest that the stone would fall faster since it is heavier, (a common misconception) and that the stone would fall slightly west? (as the earth is rotating under them) of the balloon.  This is not true though. This might be the point you are getting too.  (Two objects of different weights fall at the same rate.)<o:p></o:p>

That is assuming they both fall though.  (Again I am not sure what you are asking.) I think perhaps what you are suggesting is that the stone falls from a balloon that remains stationary in the air (like a hot air balloon).  In that case, I am not exactly sure.  <o:p></o:p>

I believe that the earth is rotating while the stone drops, and would not fall directly below the balloon (again slightly west?).  But that assumes the balloon remains stationary in relation to a point on the earth (which I believe it does).  I believe a balloon remaining suspended in the air rotates with the earth as the earth's atmosphere "rotates" with the earth?  <o:p></o:p>

Perhaps though I am wrong and the balloon stays stationary in relation to space, if that is the case then I too believe the stone falling, would fall straight to earth in relation to space and the stone would fall directly below the balloon.  In this case, while suspended (balloon), or falling (stone) they are both independent of the earth's rotation.  As soon as the stone rests on the earth though it would move in relation to space and would start to move away from the balloon.  Again, I do not think this is right though.<o:p></o:p>

Edited on July 7, 2005, 5:27 pm
  Posted by john on 2005-07-07 17:22:29

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