Test your Gravity IQ

Check out our Gravity IQ Quiz to test your essential knowledge of gravity as it’s used in animation. If you haven’t taken the quiz, you can do so here before reviewing the answers below. No peeking!

Take the Gravity Quiz

How did you do on the Gravity IQ Quiz?

  • 100 points or more: You’re a Gravity Master! Take a bow and pat yourself on the back. You’re ready to animate gravitational effects convincingly.
  • 70-100 points: You’re not a total noob, but you could do with a refresher course before attempting animation involving gravity.
  • 40-70 points: You can get around without falling down, but best not to attempt animation until you’ve reviewed the answers below.
  • 0-40 points: Perhaps you are not from this planet. Review the answers below and try again!


Correct Answers

Here are the correct answers, and partially correct ones.

1. Which of the following statements are true about gravity at the surface of the Earth?

  • Gravity pulls things toward the center of the Earth. The force of gravity pulls toward the Earth’s center. This is why people on the other side of the Earth don’t fall off!
  • Gravity keeps our atmosphere in place. Our atmosphere is held to Earth by gravity. That’s a lucky thing for us, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to breathe.
  • Atmospheric pressure is greater on the surface of the Earth than it is several miles up because gravity presses down on the atmosphere. Gravity continually pulls the atmosphere toward the center of Earth. As part of this activity, the air at the outer edges of the atmosphere continually presses down on the air below it, compressing it. The pressure this generates down at the surface is our everyday “air pressure”. It’s also why air pressure is lower for air high above the Earth; way up there, there isn’t as much air pressing down on it.
  • Gravitational pull is slightly different at the equator than it is at the North Pole and South Pole. This is true, though it’s not very well known. The spin of the Earth, as experienced at the equator vs. at the North or South Pole, affects how gravity is experienced in these places. At the equator, gravitational pull is every-so-slightly less. If you got this one right, you truly are an avid student of gravity!


2. Gravity is…

  • a force (correct answer)
  • a type of acceleration (partial points)
    Gravity is classed as a force. A force, by definition, causes an object to accelerate. While gravity isn’t a type of acceleration per se, it does result in acceleration, so partial points were given for this answer.

3. In what units is gravitational acceleration expressed?

  • Gravitational acceleration is expressed Same as any other acceleration, as Distance per time per time.

4. What is the approximate acceleration of gravity at the surface of the Earth?

  • 9.8m/sec/sec
  • 32ft/sec/sec
    If you’re going to animate falling people or objects, you need to know this one cold!

Gravity Quiz

5. The gravitational pull that a planet (or moon) exerts at its surface depends on its:

  • mass – This is the correct answer. Mass is related to size and density.
  • size – Partial points given for a related answer.
  • weight – Weight is essentially mass affected by gravity, so this is a related answer (partial points).
  • density – Partial points given for a related answer.
  • rotational speed – Gravitational pull is very slightly affected by the rotational speed at the planet’s equator vs. its poles (see Question 1). Partial points.

6. Choose the best description of the relationship between mass and weight.

  • Weight is a measure of the gravitational pull on a mass.
    Don’t feel bad if you got this one wrong. Unless you’ve done a study of the difference between mass and weight, it can be very confusing!

7. Suppose you stand on your roof and, at exactly the same time, drop an orange and a handkerchief. The orange will hit the ground first because:

  • Light cloth is affected more by air resistance, which slows the handkerchief’s fall more than the orange’s.
    This question is often answered incorrectly, even by animators who have been working in the biz for decades. Air resistance, the result of air pushing back up on a falling object, is responsible for most of the “anti-gravity” effects we see in life, such as flying birds and airplanes and parachutes that slow a jumper’s fall. Every object is affected by gravity equally, but can just seem to be affected differently because of upward-pointing forces like air resistance.

Gravity handkerchief

Now that you know, want to give it another go? Take the quiz again!

Take the Gravity Quiz

Post Author: Michele Bousquet

Michele Bousquet is the author of Physics for Animators. A longtime animator, teacher, and writer, Michele has written more than 20 books on computer graphics. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from McGill University.