Defying gravity- G forces explained

A Moment of Science

Time for a physics lesson.

We only feel gravity’s effect on us when we fall but gravity is always working on us- pulling us down at a force equal to our mass times a constant of 32 feet per second squared. We call that number- G, not for a thousand dollars, but “one force of gravity…one g.”

That’s Larry Arken, he knows his G’s, as he leads the Geico skytypers- who perform aerobatic flight demonstrations in historic aircraft. “On the surface, standing still- we all face one force of gravity. But as we move, accelerate, we stray away from 1 G.” Most times you won’t notice- until you drive a bit too fast over a hill, or ride a roller coaster, or… perform tricks in an airplane.

That feeling in your stomach? A sign that you’re facing more or less force than normal, moving away from the 1 g we normally face.


“We can increase the g-force on our body, pushing it to 2-3 G’s. So when someone says we pulled 3 Gs- that means 3 times the force of gravity.”

Larry Arken

But that added force pushing you down into your seat can be dangerous, “with positive g the blood is moving away from your brain so if you don’t stop it from going down from your brain you can get tunnel vision or black out.”

Fighter pilots can fight this by wearing special flight suits or tightening their lower body- restricting the amount of blood moving away from the important bits up here.

Dangerous g forces are a problem reserved for those leading much more exciting lives than you or me, but we can still respect the 1 force of gravity that all of us face every day.

Storm Team 2 Meteorologist David Dickson

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