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Treebeard's Stumper Answer
13 Sep 96

Here's another fire stumper. Suppose an astronaut in orbit were to light a candle. There's normal atmosphere inside the shuttle, but zero gravity. What would happen? My first thought is that heat rises ... but which way is up? Maybe this has actually been done. In class, we'll email NASA and find out! Share your thoughts at school or email mkummel@rain.org for a fast response.

How would a candle burn in zero gravity? I don't know! Heat rises, but with no gravity there is no UP, so normal convection wouldn't work. I think either the flame would die as it uses up the oxygen around it, or it would flicker badly. I'll leave this out as an open question. Please share any thoughts with us at school!

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Marc Kummel / mkummel@rain.org