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No, You Won’t Be Able to Float on Zero G Day

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Slate has a good piece de-bunking the myth of Zero G Day which is (supposedly) tomorrow. Sorry to disappoint!

We now have the claim that on Jan. 4, 2014—tomorrow—due to the combined gravity of Jupiter and Pluto, you will be able to jump in the air and float for just a couple of seconds.

It’s hard for me to overstate just how wrong this claim is. After all, the physics is wrong, the claim about Pluto and Jupiter is wrong, and it’s based on a joke made by an astronomer nearly 40 years ago!

If you want the math, then here you go: Even if you add all of the planets together, they pull on you with a force less than 2 percent of that of the Moon! The News Hound article mentions tides, too, but that’s even worse: The combined tidal force from the planets is far less, like 0.005 percent of the Moon’s! Simply put, the planets are just too far away to have any real effect on you. By the way, the Moon orbits the Earth on an ellipse, so its own gravity fluctuates far more than the combined strength of the planets every two weeks.

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