The Hammer and the Feather

Dave Scott confirms Galileo by simultaneously dropping the geology hammer and a feather, which are about the hit the ground together

Painting Completed 1986
48 x 37 1/2 inches, Acrylic on Masonite

I was watching Apollo 15 Astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin busily loading the lunar module with exposed film and dusty moonrocks. As if cued by an invisible director, Dave turned and moved toward the television camera. "Well, in my left hand I have a feather; in my right hand a hammer. I guess one of the reasons we got here today was because of the gentleman named Galileo. A long time ago, he made a rather significant discovery about falling objects in gravity fields; and we thought - where would be a better place to confirm his findings than on the Moon? And, so, we thought we'd try it here for you. The feather is, appropriately, from an Air Force Academy falcon. I'll drop the hammer and the feather and, hopefully, they'll hit the ground at the same time."

Well, Dave let them go and, since there is no atmosphere on the Moon, they fell side by side. They did fall more slowly than on Earth because the gravity is one-sixth that of Earth's.

Dave continued, "How about that. This proves that Mr. Galileo was correct in his findings."

After more than three and a half centuries, at a distance of 239,000 miles give or take a few, from his home in Florence, Italy, Galileo Galilei's discovery that "gravity pulls all bodies equally regardless of their weight" was clearly and vividly demonstrated before a television audience that spanned the planet Earth. He would have loved it.

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