Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I imagine that the first ball would strike the rest as normal, but what would the last ball do, without gravity to swing it back?

share|cite|improve this question
You might have to throw the first ball rather than just letting go. – Henry Sep 11 '11 at 22:51

It would rotate around through most of a 360${}^{\circ}$ arc, until it collided with the second to last ball on its way back around. Then the whole thing would end up mucked up.

share|cite|improve this answer
You need to insure that the frame is heavy with respect to the balls to insure that this happens neatly, of course. – dmckee Sep 11 '11 at 23:54
Would a rotating space station fix this? Could you design a zero G Newtons cradle? – Pureferret Jan 3 '12 at 18:38

My assumption is that it would react the exact same way as it would on Earth (in a vacuum) or any similar instance where the pull of gravity is relatively uniform (also in a vacuum). By uniform, I mean a gravitational pull whose net force is in the direction of an arrow perpendicular to the balls.

If it were suspended in space, the nearest/strongest gravitational pull to the last ball would probably be the other balls (unless the strings and poles on which the balls are suspended are much denser/massive), in which case it would end up all jumbled.

share|cite|improve this answer
in order to avoid jumbling due to zero gravity, use rigid rods with bearings to hold the balls. – Waqar Ahmad Sep 28 '13 at 5:13

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.