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RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Inclined plane experiment. Animation showing different aspects of the inclined plane experiment. This classic experiment is used to demonstrate visually the rate at which speed (and distance covered) increases under a constant acceleration. When Italian physicist Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) investigated the effects of gravity, objects falling directly downwards accelerated too fast to allow accurate experimentation. Instead, he used an inclined plane to lower the acceleration. This allowed him to observe that the distance covered by the ball rolling down the inclined plane was proportional to the square of the time taken. The ball rolling down the plane strikes bells, allowing an observer to record the time taken to reach each bell. In this case, the four bells are spaced one second apart, and the relative distances covered are 1, 4, 9 and 16 respectively. This experiment was used by Galileo to calculate the value of gravity (g).
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