Denmark: Danish physics in free fall

A soaking for Danish education minister Bertel Haarder was an embarrassment in more than one way when he exposed himself to the forces of gravity at the renowned Tivoli gardens in Copenhagen earlier this month.

The minister was at Tivoli to launch a week introducing climate and energy issues to Danish students through experiments set up around the theme park's attractions.

One of the experiments involved being shot down at a speed of 1.5 times gravity from Tivoli's 55 meters tall Golden Tower holding a glass of water. During the minister's descent, the water left the glass and landed on his lap.

Once safely back on the ground, a clearly shaken and damp Haarder explained:

"When you hold a glass of water in free fall, the water will fall more slowly than you. And that is also because you sit in something heavy and heavy things fall faster than light things."

With that comment he handed a whole generation of physics teachers a shining example to use as a stepping stone for their future lessons on gravity.

The morning after, the minister's intelligence had fluttered down the 55 meters and rejoined his grey matter. To his credit, he openly admitted his lapse of presence to the main competitor of the 'quality' newspaper Berlingske Tidene that had recorded his initial statements and published them without comment.

"Of course this thing about the specific gravity of water being less than mine was rubbish," he told Politiken.