Zero Gravity Flame Balls


Paul Ronney wasn’t looking for flame balls. They came as a complete surprise.

It happened in 1984 when Ronney, a combustion researcher, was at the NASA Glenn Research Center’s Microgravity Drop Tower in Ohio. He pressed a button and sent a can of burning hydrogen falling down a 90 ft. shaft. For 2.2 seconds it plummeted, freely falling and weightless, with a 16mm movie camera recording the action. Ronney knew that flames did strange things in low gravity–that’s why he was doing the experiment–but he wasn’t prepared for what he saw in the film room later.

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