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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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About 6-7 years ago, I was in a philosophy class at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (good science/engineering school) and the teaching assistant was explaining Descartes.

He was trying to show how things don't always happen the way we think they will and explained that, while a pen always falls when you drop it on Earth, it would just float away if you let go of it on the Moon. My jaw dropped a little. I blurted "What?!" Looking around the room, I saw that only my friend Mark and one other student looked confused by the TA's statement. The other 17 people just looked at me like "What's your problem?" "But a pen would fall if you dropped it on the Moon, just more slowly." I protested.

"No it wouldn't." the TA explained calmly, "because you're too far away from the Earth's gravity." Think. Think. Aha! "You saw the APOLLO astronauts walking around on the Moon, didn't you?"

I countered, "why didn't they float away?"

"Because they were wearing heavy boots." he responded, as if this made perfect sense (remember, this is a Philosophy TA who's had plenty of logic classes). By then I realized that we were each living in totally different worlds, and did not speak each others language, so I gave up.

As we left the room, my friend Mark was raging. "My God! How can all those people be so stupid?" I tried to be understanding. "Mark, they knew this stuff at one time, but it's not part of their basic view of the world, so they've forgotten it. Most people could probably make the same mistake."
http://www.phys.ufl.edu/~det/phy2060/heavyboots.html
 

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There are no words to describe my feelings.

Mostly because I'm high on caffeine and sugar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, why didn't the astronauts fall off?
 

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Because they were singing ICP's "miracles", and thus attracted the moon to themselves with the mystic power of the "magnets".
 

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Originally Posted by dormouse View Post

I bet there's a lot of people who don't really understand how gravity works.
You mean there are objects other than the Earth that have gravity?!?!?
 

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So, are we supposed to be ridiculing stupid people in this thread, or uneducated ones? I hope that TA was white. It's not very PC to make fun of anyone but whites for being stupid and or uneducated.
 

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Originally Posted by SomebodyElse View Post

So, are we supposed to be ridiculing stupid people in this thread, or uneducated ones? I hope that TA was white. It's not very PC to make fun of anyone but whites for being stupid and or uneducated.
Strictly speaking, does a TA qualify as either stupid or uneducated? Presumably, a TA's intelligence is somewhere in the average zone, and s/he has at least a couple of semesters of college under his/her belt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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Originally Posted by mlp View Post

Strictly speaking, does a TA qualify as either stupid or uneducated? Presumably, a TA's intelligence is somewhere in the average zone, and s/he has at least a couple of semesters of college under his/her belt.
Maybe not a philosophy TA.
 

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Most TA's are graduate students, I'm pretty sure.

And hopefully most universities and high schools still require even the humanities people to take science courses.
 

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Originally Posted by dormouse View Post

Most TA's are graduate students, I'm pretty sure.
I was a TA as an undergrad and as a grad student. The difference was that, as a grad student, I was the only one teaching the class for the semester. As an undergrad, I assisted the professor. It probably varies from school to school, and things may be quite different now.

But in any case, I learned the basics of gravity well before high school.
 
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