# Balance proves gravity isn't a force

1. Aug 11, 2010

### vin300

consider a weight balance with two unequal masses on the two arms.It comes to rest after tilting a few degrees. If one of the masses really experienced a greater force, then there is no reason why the balance shouldn't tilt 90 degrees

2. Aug 11, 2010

### bapowell

What kind of scale is this that comes to rest after tilting a few degrees? I'm not a scale expert, but I think the kind of scale you are envisioning has a counter-weight on it, that you adjust to achieve equilibrium.

3. Aug 11, 2010

### HallsofIvy

Only because there is friction in the pivot. If you have a a balance with no (or very little) friction it will tile 90 degrees.

4. Aug 11, 2010

### Ich

They place the center pivot a little bit higher than the eyes where you attach the pan. (http://visual.merriam-webster.com/images/science/measuring-devices/measure-weight/beam-balance.jpg" [Broken]).
That proves that they know how to build balances, but nothing about gravity.

Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
5. Aug 11, 2010

### Acut

If gravity isn't a force, what is gravity?

6. Aug 11, 2010

### apolski

Gravity is the effect of curvature of space-time rather than a force.

7. Aug 11, 2010

### espen180

In non-intertial reference frames, gravity can be treated as a resulting psuedo-force, on the same level as the centrifugal and coriolis forces.

8. Aug 11, 2010

### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
We shouldn't derail this into something it isn't. The OP clearly isn't aiming along this direction, or at least the "evidence" being used clearly doesn't deal with "gravity not a force and merely a curvature of space-time".

This is an elementary problem based on rather incompletely understanding of a situation. Let's not take it beyond that. There are already many threads dealing with gravity within the GR description. Continue that line of discussion in those appropriate threads.

Zz.

9. Aug 11, 2010

Is it the friction of the pivot? If that was the case then the friction would have to be a function of the angle right? Otherwise, could it be that the lever arm length changes? hmm...

10. Aug 11, 2010

### Acut

@apolski and espen180: That question was aimed at the OP.
He evidently has some basic conceptual mistakes - let us not confuse him with general relativity, since it will not solve his problem : the body with the largest mass will feel the largest force (or pseudoforce, or whatever).

@OP: Study torque and angular momentum. Than you will see that the more the balance distances from the horizontal, the least will be the tendency to go up to 90 degrees. If the balance has some friction in it - which is likely to be the case - friction will equilibrate that tendency and the balance will be in equilibrium before the 90 degrees. Sometimes, the most stable position isn't achieved because some constraining (normal) or friction forces are in it. The balance that doesn't tilt completely is analogous to a book that doesn't fall because he is on a table.

Have I convinced you, vin 300? Let me give a perhaps simpler reason. You argued that if both masses had different weights, the rod should tilt to 90 degrees, and since that wasn't the case, both masses should have the same weight. Since you can put any 2 masses in that scale, this would mean that everything weights the same. So, by your reasoning, one apple weights the same as 100 apples - clearly, something is wrong.

11. Aug 11, 2010

### Staff: Mentor

It's not friction, it's the lever arm changing due to the geometry of the scale. Ich had it right.

12. Aug 11, 2010

### QEDick1918

Try that experiment in a vacuum. Good luck with that.

13. Aug 11, 2010

### pallidin

Yep. If the pivot is directly inline with the two different masses, the greater mass will cause a full and complete 90 degree tilt.
The pivot in this case is not directly inline, rather above the two masses; thus becomes a "balance"
As russ said, geometry plays the critical role.

14. Aug 11, 2010

### pallidin

A vacuum would have no substantive effect on outcome.

15. Aug 11, 2010

### Jimmy Snyder

I don't know what kind of scale we are talking about. Imagine a beam that is pinned at its center and freely rotates. Imagine two pans are attached at the extrema of the beam so as to rotate freely like cars on a ferris wheel. Then the beam would go vertical. Indeed it would be very difficult to manufacture such a scale so that it didn't go vertical even with no weights on it.

Although friction might help to retard this effect, I doubt it would help much unless the two weights were very similar. I expect that good balance scales reduce the friction as far as is practical anyway. Instead, I expect that they have some mechanical means of preventing the beam from rotating freely beyond a certain angle, while allowing it to rotate freely when less than that angle. In that case, a difference in weight would cause the scale to rapidly reach that limiting angle. Does someone here have access to a balance scale and can confirm these conjectures?

Here is an example of a balance scale.
http://www.findingking.com/popup.aspx?src=images/Product/large/s-757_freeshipping.jpg"

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
16. Aug 11, 2010

### pallidin

Clue: The weights are actually BELOW the pivot center.

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
17. Aug 11, 2010

### QEDick1918

Yes. I'm talking about the vacuum of space. Gravity is the only force acting on the objects in space. They are in a free-fall. That was my whole point in stating: "good luck" - as in good luck trying to prove gravity isn't a force.

18. Aug 11, 2010

### pallidin

Ah, OK

19. Aug 11, 2010

### QEDick1918

:tongue:

20. Aug 11, 2010

### Staff: Mentor

Sounds like people are still having trouble visualizing this. See this image: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/images/balance.gif

Picture a slight rotation clockwise. When rotating slightly clockwise, the pan on the right gets closer to the fulcrum horizontally while the pan on the left gets further away, thus eventually finding a torque equilibrium.

Note, this is also why using a flexible pole vastly increases stability for a tightrope walker.

21. Aug 11, 2010

### e2m2a

Your original title, "balance proves gravity isn't a force" belies some confusion of terms.
Gravity and weight are not the same thing, but are interchanged loosely in discussions about gravity. When a body is in free-fall, it is weightless.
When something prevents it from falling at 9.8 meters/sec sq to the center of the earth, weight manifests in the body, which is a force.

One simple experiment you can do to demonstrate this is take a ball which is attached to a spring. The other end of the spring is attached to the inside of a cup. Hold the cup with one hand and let the ball hang from the spring, until it stops oscillating. At this point, it is in equilibrium. The spring elastic force acting upward cancels out the weight of the ball acting downward.

But now, release the cup. What happens? The weight of the ball "vanishes". The only force now acting on the ball is the spring force. As the ball,spring, and cup accelerate to the earth-- weightless-- under the influence of gravity, the spring will pull the ball back into the cup.

22. Aug 11, 2010

### Acut

This is wrong. The perceived weight has vanished, but weight keeps acting.

Wrong again! The ball is falling, and it's certainly NOT due to the spring force. Gravity keeps acting upon the ball.

23. Aug 11, 2010

### QEDick1918

Another way to look at it is, a scale does not actually measure your weight per se. It measures the force of upward gravity that balances the downward force of gravity upon your person (in equilibrium).

24. Aug 11, 2010

### Acut

Upward gravity?
Upward?
Do we live in the same planet?

A scale measures the normal force - or the tension in the string/spring that is hanging the object. There's no such a thing as "upward gravity" cancelling "downward gravity".

25. Aug 11, 2010

### QEDick1918

Um, sir... have you ever heard of the spring force constant (Hook's Law) ?

And I could be wrong, but the "vanishes" in quotations may be an indicator of a non-literal interpretation. I think I knew what he meant.