In the late 16th century, famed Italian scientist Galileo Galilei supposedly dropped balls of different weights from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to demonstrate that they reached ground at the same time irrespective of their mass. Prior to Galileo’s findings people had believed that objects of different mass fell at different speeds. While this story of Galileo's experiment has been retold in popular accounts, historian believe that it was merely a thought experiment and that Galileo never actually dropped anything from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Nevertheless, the story is well known and its folklore is widespread, inspiring who knows how many people to drop objects from apartment windows into the sidewalk? Indeed, when astronauts stepped on the moon, they dropped a hammer and a feather to demonstrate that in the absence of air resistance both objects fell at the same rate.
Photo credit: seekme/Panoramio
At the Gravity Discovery Centre near Gingin, north of Perth, in Western Australia, there is a steel tower that was built specifically for this purpose. The Leaning Tower of Gingin, as it is called, rises 45 meters and leans at an amazing angle of 15 degrees — not too far from the 18-degree lean of Abu Dhabi’s Capital Gate building which holds the Guinness World Records for the "World’s furthest leaning man-made tower”. The Leaning Tower of Pisa leans at only 5.5 degrees. Visitors and young kids, can climb up the 222 steps to the very top of the Leaning Tower of Gingin from where they can drop water filled balloons and watch through the grilled platform as the balloons fall to the ground. The incredible lean gives them a clear drop to the sand below. The view from up there across the Wallingup Plains all the way to the Darling Scarp is also breathtaking.
Aside from the leaning tower, which is the centrepiece of the Gravity Discovery Centre, the institution offers hand-on experience on many scientific experiments including a gravitational wave detector, the first in the southern hemisphere, a Penrose Floor, Magnetic skateboarding and many others.
Photo credit: Ben Grummels/Panoramio
Photo credit: pweaver/Panoramio
The base of the Leaning Tower of Gingin. The tower is held in place by 180 tons of concrete. Photo credit: Orderinchaos/Wikimedia
A kid is about to drop a water balloon through a chute. Photo credit: www.kids-around-perth.com
The water balloon falls through the chute and into the sand bed below. Photo credit: poneke1.blogspot.in
A warning sign near the base of the tower (left), and the sand bed littered with burst balloons (right). Photo credit: Paul Weaver/Picasa
The sand bed is visible through the iron grilled platform. Photo credit: poneke1.blogspot.in
The view from up there is quite nice. Photo credit: poneke1.blogspot.in
Photo credit: Derek Graham/Panoramio
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