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Being inside a spinning Gravitron — a ride that typically looks like a silvery alien UFO — can feel like defying gravity.
The floor of the ride disappears, but the riders don’t fall. Some can even flip upside-down, or sit cross-legged against the walls. How?
The Gravitron spins so fast, everyone inside is pressed against its walls. According to Wonderopolis, this feeling is caused by apparent centrifugal force.
Meanwhile, the walls of the ride are pushing against you, back toward the center of the ride. As a rule, objects want to move in straight lines, so a lot of forces have to be pulling and pushing on your body to make it travel in a circle inside the ride. Put simply, if the walls of the ride weren’t there, you’d fly straight off!
Your body, too, is exerting its own force. As the wall pushes against you, your body pushes back. This creates friction, and this force keeps you from sliding down — even when the floor disappears.
All in all, your body inside a Gravitron is pinned to the wall by forces that feel as strong as 3 g, or three times the normal force of gravity, according to NASA.
That force is similar to what astronauts feel as they rocket into space.
An astronaut can experience up to 3.2 g’s at launch and 1.4 g’s upon reentry. So if you’ve even been on a Gravitron, you and an astronaut have at least one thing in common.