During such a parabolic flight we should be able to get the water perpendicularly against the sides of the glass, independently from the rotation speed. To make this experiment succeed the rotation speed should not be zero, otherwise we may get weird effects, similar to those we saw as we had forgotten to start our machine. By means of a self written simulation program, we are able to demonstrate this effect.

Very soon we noticed that during a parabolic fight gravitational force fluctuates from 0 to 1.8 times the normal gravity. The observation of our rotating liquid enables us to monitor the other gravity phases different from microgravity as well. At 1.8 for instance the water will be pulled down more strongly, so that we will notice a flatter water surface or a parabola with a longer focal length.

So, we may conclude it is possible to calculate gravity by measuring the form factors of the parabolic water surface! Because the plane is equipped with accelerometers, which are active during the flight, we may even compare our results to the professional data. As you see, it’s something like comparing a sand-glass to an atom bell for measuring time.

Since the very beginning of the contest where such a flight is the ultimate reward (including the risk of becoming seriously sick, which we were willing to take) we realized that this topic perhaps wouldn’t do among all those other more exotic and sophisticated experiments. From the well known phenomenon that a wineglass makes a singing noise when you rub its brim with a wet finger, we decided to make our gravitation detector sing as a result and a function of the gravity. Indeed, if the level of the water against the side of the glass alters, the glass will ring or resound at various frequencies and produce several different tones.

This way said, this way done: so our ideas stated on a sheet of paper and sent in. As we had been informed extremely late about this contest, there was no more time left than a week for the whole process. At the very last moment, we reached the deadline, just in time!

After we had almost forgotten our contribution, we received an e-mail with the great news that we were selected for further participation in the next student parabolic flight campaign.

It was high time to test the concept out in practice and therefore a lot of receptacles in glass have been borrowed – with or without permission – from the owners, read mothers. The rotating beakers filled with a liquid would be fitted with a friction element at the top in order to make them ring or sing. Tests proved very soon that a fuller glass produced a lower sound than an empty one, what was very elementary in itself, until we tried to formulate the necessary mathematical approaches… Besides, most glasses are anything but perfectly round and it lasts quite a long time before the fluid in the glass is spinning at the same rotation speed as the glass itself. Moreover the idea of the “friction element” didn’t seem anything but reliable to us. As though it wasn’t yet difficult enough, we had been overlooking the refraction of the light through all those convex or cylindrical surfaces in glass. So, difficulties enough!