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Skydiving is All About Gravity

How the principles of gravity and thermodynamics dictate the art of skydiving.

Understanding the mechanics of skydiving will help you be a better diver, and it is an interesting topic to study in any case. The most important aspects of these mechanics are acceleration and gravity. Make sure you have both of them on your side at all times!

Gravity is the easier one of the two to understand since we all deal with it every day. You can't throw a ball into the sky and expect it to stay there. Gravity throws it right back at you. So if you jump out of an airplane, you should just keep dropping towards earth like the ball does, right? Not if you equip yourself with a parachute; otherwise you would end up on the ground, and not bounce back like a ball.

We all remember the famous experiment by Sir Isaac Newton, who wondered why the apple he threw always came back to earth. This was the discovery of the principal of gravity, which is the foundation of thermodynamics. Leonardo da Vinci expanded upon this theory to explain the forces of gravity and even demonstrated that flying should be possible with the right application of thermodynamics. Thanks to both Newton and da Vinci, we have a better understanding of these concepts.

Gravity is the part of the law of attraction. A larger object will have more attractional force than a smaller one, and the earth, a very large object, has a strong force. A small skydiver in the sky has relatively no gravitational attraction compared to the earth, so he will be pulled towards it. It would be an interesting world if the earth were pulled towards other objects in the sky such as skydivers and planes. But this is the basic physical principal that rules skydiving.

The other concept that intrigued Sir Isaac Newton was how fast or slow the apple fell to the earth. This is the concept of acceleration. The longer something falls, the more the gravitational pull becomes, so that an object will fall faster and faster the longer it falls. Drop a penny from shoulder height and not much will happen to the penny. Drop it from a skyscraper, and it will become a ballistic missile that will badly injure someone on the ground, or be crushed when it lands. The reason is that it gained speed and strength as it fell further and "accelerated". Illinois skydiving is something very interesting to start with.

The parachute a skydiver uses has the power to slow the diver down so that he does not become the crushed penny. It does this by slowing the acceleration of the diver and allows him (hopefully) to land gently on the ground as gravity pushes him towards it.

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