Today, we’re going to discuss the nature of vacuums and whether they allow or completely prevent acceleration,
but before we dig into the meat of the article, let’s discuss what acceleration is and what vacuums are exactly.
What Is Acceleration?
Have you ever wondered why some things seem to move faster than others?
For example, you might notice that a car moving at 60 mph seems to go by much faster than a car going at 30 mph. This phenomenon is called acceleration.
The speed of something depends on its mass and the force acting upon it. When you accelerate, you increase the force acting on the object. If you want to get somewhere faster, you need to apply more force.
Acceleration is caused by the change in the momentum of an object. Momentum is the measure of the amount of motion or energy an object has.
As long as the force remains constant, the speed increases. The greater the force applied, the higher the speed.
Acceleration can be measured using different units such as meters per second squared (m/s2), miles per hour (mph), and feet per second squared (ft/sec2).
What Is A Vacuum?
A vacuum is nothing but a space with no air molecules. It is a state of complete absence of matter. You cannot see or feel anything inside a vacuum because there are no particles to interact with your senses.
When we talk about vacuums, we usually mean those created by a pump. However, when talking about the universe, we also refer to the “vacuum” of space itself.
The vacuum of space is not empty. It contains all kinds of particles including electrons, protons, neutrons, photons, etc.
These particles have been trapped within the vacuum due to their interactions with other particles.
Can You Accelerate In A Vacuum?
Have you ever watched a movie where they’re in space and suddenly they need to go faster? That’s acceleration. But is acceleration in a vacuum, like in space, actually possible or is it a scientific myth?
In reality, yes, you can accelerate in a vacuum. In fact, acceleration is easier than ever in a vacuum, as there is very little resistance to slow an object down.
Now, that’s not to say that something in a vacuum will accelerate indefinitely, as gravity still exists within a vacuum,
so the minute the energy source triggering the acceleration dwindles, acceleration will cease. Let’s take a closer look at this with some examples.
Imagine that you’re driving down a road at 10 m/s. Now imagine that you turn off the engine.
Since there is no friction between the vehicle and the road, the car will continue to move at 10 m/s until it comes to a stop.
Now let’s say that you put on your seatbelt and start accelerating. Your speed will begin to increase. At first, you’ll only be able to accelerate up to 5 m/s.
This is because the force that keeps you in place is now being used to keep you moving.
But once you reach a certain point, you won’t be able to accelerate any further.
This is because the maximum speed you can achieve is limited by Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
This means that when you try to accelerate, you create a force that opposes your movement. The stronger the opposing force, the less likely it is that you’ll be able to accelerate.
You might think that since you’re in a vacuum, there should be no forces acting upon you. And you’d be right! So why do you feel like you’re accelerating even though there’s no external force acting upon you?
It turns out that there is one thing keeping you from going faster than 5 m/s: gravity. Gravity acts on all objects equally regardless of whether they are inside or outside of a vacuum.
So if you want to accelerate in a vacuum, you have to overcome the effects of gravity. Fortunately, it turns out that you can do just that.
How Do We Overcome The Lack Of Air In A Vacuum In Order To Accelerate?
One of the things that really confuses people about acceleration in vacuums is the absence of air. They think that if there’s no air to resist an object moving in a certain direction,
then there’s no air behind the object for a fuel source to press against and increase acceleration, but here’s the thing… a fuel source never presses against air.
Yep, that’s right, folks! Air was never the crux of the matter. The lack of it in a vacuum has no impact on a spacecraft’s ability to accelerate. Let’s think about an example to explain the situation more clearly.
Have you ever sat on a wheelie chair and used a fire extinguisher to propel yourself backwards?
Well, it’s not the compressed gas within the extinguisher pressing against the air out in front of you that triggers the motion of the chair.
It’s actually the force of the gas pushing against the nozzle of the extinguisher as it leaves that sends you rolling across your office.
The same would be true if you were in a spacecraft in a vacuum and you were firing up your boosters.
Even though your fuel source has no air to push against, the force of the fuel igniting and pushing away from the spacecraft’s own inertia or mass
is all that’s required to get moving and accelerate through the vacuum of space — pretty neat, huh?
How Do We Overcome Gravity In A Vacuum In Order To Accelerate?
Well, simply put, we can’t. Although we think of space as being kind of “floaty”, and associate it with a lack of forces such as gravity,
the idea that there is no gravity couldn’t be further from the truth — gravity is omnipresent!
Every single object emits a gravitational force, so the fact that our hypothetical spaceship has mass, in itself, means that we cannot avoid gravity in a vacuum.
Then there are other sources of gravity to contend with from larger cosmic objects, even if they’re light-years away.
Gravity gets weaker the further away from the source you are, but no matter how far away you get, it’s always, to some extent, present.
You will never reach a gravityless zone, even in the vastness of deep space. Gravity is everywhere, and it’s here to stay,
attracting disparate masses, attempting to join everything together into one super huge space clump.
Do we overcome gravity to accelerate in a vacuum? No, it’s impossible. Do we work against it in a constant tension like we always have done?
Yep. We simply butt heads with it using our fuel source until our fuel source runs dry.
So it is possible to accelerate through a vacuum, however, it does take preparation and effort.
So if you plan on visiting a vacuum and need help with accelerating through it, now you know the best possible aids.
Though, we must warn you that we do not recommend traveling through any vacuums because there tends to be no oxygen. And unfortunately for us humans, no oxygen is kind of a big L.
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