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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bending Spacetime in the Basement: HTML5 Update

Bending Spacetime in the Basement was one of the first “basement science” experiments posted on Fourmilab. It shows how to demonstrate universal gravitation on the human scale with simple apparatus and speculates on how Archimedes might have discovered universal gravitation 1900 years before Newton.

This page was originally posted in July of 1997, and was showing its age. I have just posted a 2017 update, which uses HTML5 to provide improved typography and embed videos of the experiments within the page.

This is a demanding experiment. Some people have managed to reproduce it, while others have run into difficulties. You need a location with a stable temperature, free of drafts, which is far from walls or other massive structures. You'll need to be patient to wait for the stresses in the support fibre to be released. It took me about two months to sort out all of the disturbing influences and obtain the reliable results presented here. It is, thus, not an ideal project to introduce school classes to experimental science unless the goal is to demonstrate how frustrating an endeavour it can be. (That said, some teachers have managed to get this experiment to work for their classes, who much appreciated it,)

Posted at January 31, 2017 01:00