How Gravity Makes Skydiving Possible
Of all the things to do in Las Vegas, skydiving might be the activity with the least amount of risk. Whether it’s soaring in a tunnel in one of the many indoor skydiving centers near Las Vegas hotels or jumping from a plane above the surrounding desert, the area offers plenty of opportunities to experience the full force of gravity under the safe supervision of an expert. Read on to learn more about what happens to your body as it plummets (safely) to the ground.
What is gravity?
Almost everyone takes gravity for granted, but when it comes to how and why gravity works, we don’t have a concrete explanation. The closest theory probably comes from Albert Einstein. According to his general theory of relativity, anything that has mass warps space-time, causing a dimple that, if the mass is big enough, draws other objects into its orbit. (For instance, consider how a child sitting on a trampoline warps the fabric. Now imagine that fabric is not a surface but a four-dimensional field surrounding the child on all sides.)
So what’s Newton got to do with it?
Einstein’s theory is sort of complicated, but things seemed much simpler in Isaac Newton’s day. According to perhaps the best-known story in science history, Newton was conked on the head by a falling apple and, after baking an apple pie in revenge, struck upon his most famous law. But as readers of Newton’s subsequent work, Principia, will know, it wasn’t so much the falling apple that inspired the theory as the nonfalling moon.
After observing the acceleration of bodies on Earth, Newton discovered that the same force controlling their fall could also account for the moon’s continual orbit. If, in one sense, Einstein’s later theory transformed our concept of the universe, in another it was only a small improvement on Newton’s original idea, which is still considered reliable enough to be used in planning the trajectories of spacecraft.
And that’s enough science talk for one day. Now, go put Einstein’s and Newton’s theories to the test at these Las Vegas–area skydiving spots: