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The Cannon

As it turns out, the dropped ball will hit the ground first.

You may recall from high school physics that in the absence of atmospheric drag, two objects in the same gravitational field fall at the same rate. Or, if you haven't had high school physics yet, from your experiments with water balloons and spit balls.

But the Earth is curved. So while gravity pulls on both cannonballs with the same force, the Earth's surface curves away from underneath the fired ball. In fact, if the second cannon ball were moving fast enough, its fall would keep pace with the curvature of the Earth and come around and hit the sentry in the back. This was first noticed by Newton, who in a sense could be credited with inventing the concept of an artificial satellite.

Because of the speed and distances involved, the curvature of the Earth will probably offset any additional variables other than drag (which we ignore because this is Puzzlania).

Incidentally, the dropped ball will hit the Earth after about 4.5 seconds. Anyone want to give a go at the fired ball?

Updated 4/23/98:

Michael Pusateri has provided us with the solution to the Fired Scenario. He even did up the pictures and everything, thanks Mike!

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