MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Subject: Please expand on why we feel 'right side up' on earth

Date: Thu Apr 24 11:24:32 2003
Posted by earl
Grade level: grad (non-science) School: Self
City: Silver Spring State/Province: MD Country: USA
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 1051201472.Es

Hi - I read your responses to why we don't feel upside down on earth.  You 
mentioned gravity and related forces.  However, I think there must be more to 
the story.

Consider a white dwarf w/ diameter of 1/2 city block.  It'd spin rapidly and 
exert great centripetal force.  However, I doubt that one would feel "right 
side up" if he were standing at the "south pole".  It'd be too small.  Or, 
consider a meteor a few meters long (and smaller...) that is a fragment of a 
white dwarf (and hence has GREAT density) and is spinning rapidly.  However, 
There would clearly be an "upside down" feeling if one were to step onto the 
underside of the "rock". 

Finally, everything in the universe exerts gravity.  Obviously, things w less 
density/mass exert less.  But it's all relative.  The moon exerts less gravity 
than earth.  Did the astronauts feel less "right side up" when they were 
walking on the moon?  I doubt it.

That said, there must be something else affecting our "orientation" on earth 
that goes beyond gravity and centripetal force.  The size of the planet must 
play a role.  

I would appreciate your comment on this. 

Thank you.


Re: Please expand on why we feel 'right side up' on earth

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