by Claude Needham Ph.D.
Don't you just hate it when you manage to persuade the First Class stewardess to let you sit in the extra seat and then you drop the complimentary glass of champagne on the floor? I know I do. At times like that, I usually find that my thoughts wander with a will of their own. Has it occurred to you that the glass doesn't really have any more attraction for the floor of the airplane than it does for the ceiling -- or walls for that matter? The communion between champagne and carpet is only engendered because the floor stands between the glass and the Earth to which it has a true and mutual attraction. Apart from being moved, the glass should not take the Earth's attraction as an indicator of a special relationship. The Earth being the gravitational slut that it is, is just as attracted to any other object of the same relative mass as that of the glass. To the Earth, all objects of the same mass look pretty much the same. In fact, the attraction between the Earth and objects local to its surface is so ubiquitous that it doesn't really matter. The only thing that seems to really matter in the relationship is the attraction of the object for the Earth.
Weight-lifters can then be looked upon as exercising their muscles by pushing, pulling, dragging and pressing heavy objects slightly away from the Earth to which they're obviously incessantly attracted. Seems pretty callous to come between an object and the one to which it is attracted just to develop a little muscle mass.
If weight lifters could bring themselves to perform their workouts in space, I think they could avail themselves of a much less karmically damaging exercise program. In space, the heavy objects so attractive to weight-lifters -- barbells and medicine balls -- would not themselves have any particular attraction one way or another. Within the free fall zone (much different than an orbital freefall) an object is just as attracted to the Earth, the Moon and/or the Sun. Objects are caught in the indecisive arena of being equally happy to go any which way.
In this zone, the weight-lifter couldn't get his or her exercise (both sexes are equally guilty of the aforesaid callous behavior) by fighting the attraction of barbells for the earth. Here they have the opportunity to be something of service. You see, the barbells would be in a state of inertia -- either at rest or in motion, and, the barbells would tend to stay in rest or motion until acted upon by some external force. They don't have it within themselves to change the inertial slump that they've fallen into. Hence, the weight-lifter could become an inertia-changer. Since, the effort needed to alter the inertia of a mass in space is the same as the effort needed to alter the inertia of a mass on the surface of the earth, it's obvious that objects with large masses could supply inertia-changers with enough challenge to provide plenty of muscle building. And, at the same time, they can exercise without the haunting guilt of perpetually separating ardent lovers.