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Zero-g: Worth Every Ounce I Lost

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So, what is zero gravity like? I've looked at other people's explanations and the consensus seems to be that the English language is lacking proper frames for explaining it. It's an entirely familiar yet wholly new experience. In fact it's so familiar that it ends up making normal gravity seem abnormal. Perhaps the most eye-opening revelation of zero gravity is not what zero gravity feels like, but rather understanding normal gravity for the first time in your life. The first time the plane straightened out again after zero gravity I remember feeling so heavy. It was hard to walk and I wanted to lay down rather than continue to feel the inexorable pull of Earth.

I have trouble deciding whether the familiarity of zero gravity is because it's some amalgam of experiences I've had throughout my life, or whether it's because it's a sensation I've felt before but only in a fleeting moment. I've thought of describing it as the instant at which you're jumping in the air and coming back down -- with that instant magically extended for 30 seconds. But that isn't right because you're entirely free. I pushed off a handhold and sent myself instantly spinning around the cabin. I also crawled around the hull of the cabin in a 360 and flew down the center with a Superman-like launch. There's no up or down and no control if you don't have something to push off of. I thought about doing handstands, then realized was no different from reaching up and touching the ceiling.

As for the Zero-G experience itself, it's best describe as organized chaos and total sensory overload. There's thirty people in the hull of a plane divided into three groups. There's some program to it all -- one parabola you do water, another M&Ms, another you do Superman -- but the reality is that there are tons of giggling adults bouncing off every surface for 30 seconds. You try not to hurt anyone else, but you will collide with people because there's no way to change direction without pushing off a wall or a person.

My favorite trick was eating the M&Ms, which surprised me. I wasn't expecting it to be that fun, but I was immediately enthralled the moment you see the M&Ms spinning like little jewels. I then felt like Homer in a Simpson's dream sequence, doing my best to guide my mouth towards spinning M&Ms as I floated down the cabin. Water is also fun as it immediately turns into little globes in front of you, but most of it will end up on your face instead of in your mouth. One of our groups launched 400 ping pong balls. I didn't get a good view of it, but it looked cool from a distance. I'm looking forward to the video.

I did get sick -- I wanted get rid of some extra weight for the weightlessness -- though I managed to get sick between parabolas and return immediately for the next. Others weren't so lucky and a much worse shade of green. They limit their flight to 15 parabolas because the majority of people won't get sick with that number and our flight seemed to back that up. What got me wasn't zero gravity, but gravity. You pull 1.8g in order to get to the top of the parabola and there's also the bottom of the parabola to deal with. This is fairly intense on your inner ear and they tell you to pick a spot on the ceiling to stare at. There's a couple of times when zero gravity will end, there's bodies that have fallen on top of you, and you find yourself doing a little more movement than you'd like under the influence of changing gravity.

Comments (2)

Radical!

We just watched the moon landing Mythbusters episode and I said, I think I know someone who just did the zero G flight!

littlestar:

so jealous! every one of you look so ecstatic. :)

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on September 1, 2008 6:47 PM.

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