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About jrv12

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  1. Physics of Mario Kart

    Mario Kart was (and still is) the greatest game of all time, and there is a surprising amount of physics involved – not the part about falling off the edge of rainbow road and then magically reappearing back on the track though. Mario Kart uses Newton’s laws. The use of Newton’s first law proves why in order to get moving you have to press a button to accelerate, and when you let your finger off the button, you don’t just automatically stop, you just slow down. Newton’s second law shows how if you use a cart with a greater mass, you need a greater force to get the kart moving with the same acceleration. Mario Kart also uses elastic and inelastic collisions. An elastic collision occurs when two karts run into each other. They both don’t stick together following the collision, but they bounce away from each other. An inelastic collision occurs when two karts collide and the one with the thunder colt transfers to the other kart and now the thunder cloud is stuck to the other kart. While Mario Kart is mostly fictional – with flying blue shells, mystery boxes, and magically coming back to life after falling off into vast darkness – there is still a lot of subtle physics involved.
  2. Spaceships & EmDrive

    Space rockets use thrust in order to get them up into space. Thrust is the sudden, propulsive force of a jet engine, and is based on Newton’s third law. In the rocket, thrust is created from the solid rocket boosters and the main engines. The solid rocket boosters and the external fuel tank are eventually dropped from the rocket in order to reduce mass once in space. The rocket is slowed down a little because of the force due to gravity and the drag force when in the Earth’s atmosphere. NASA has been working on a new way to launch rockets into space: the EmDrive. It is an electromagnetic propulsion drive that generates thrust by bouncing microwaves in a closed container. According to physics, this would be impossible because of the conservation of momentum and that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. However, a group in NASA has been able to generate thrust from the EmDrive in a vacuum. The power of the EmDrive allows spaceships to travel much faster, allowing humans to explore more of space than ever before. If the EmDrive does end up working, the great space exploration could be back on! So for now, we wait.
  3. Fuse vs. Circuit Breaker

    If you live in a house like mine, blowing fuses and circuit breakers is a common occurrence because of all the things we have plugged in at once. A fuse is a small, thin conductor that is designed to separate whenever there is excessive current flowing through the circuit. Fuses are connected in series so that when the fuse blows it will stop current flow throughout the entire circuit. If fuses were connected in parallel, they would not affect the current through any of the other branches. Although fuses are designed to stop all the current flowing through the circuit, sometimes if the voltage is high enough and the fuse isn’t long enough a spark can jump from one end of the wire to the other, allowing some current through and completing the circuit once again (which would not be good at all). Once a fuse is blown, it needs to be discarded and replaced with a new one. A circuit breaker is a switch that automatically opens to interrupt the current flowing through the circuit. When the circuit breaker is on, it allows the current to pass through the circuit. However, when the current becomes too excessive, a strong magnetic force flips the metal lever within the circuit breaker and stops the current from flowing. Unlike fuses, when a circuit breaker is tripped, it can simply be turned back on from the breaker box allowing the circuit to reconnect.
  4. Newton's Cradle

    Newton’s cradle is a device demonstrating the conservation of energy and momentum. In an ideal Newton’s cradle, only the two balls on the end will move and there will be no energy loss, resulting in the cradle going on for an infinite amount of time. However, in a real Newton’s cradle, the fourth ball does have some movement and there is slight reverse movement as seen in the picture above. The equations p=mv and KE=½mv2 can be used to help find the velocities of the two end balls on an ideal Newton’s cradle, with perfectly elastic objects so there is no loss. The type and size of the balls does not affect the solution as long as the material is still elastic and doesn’t have too much mass.
  5. Physics of Golf

    Since The Masters seems to be the only TV program on in my house these past few days, it seems fit to talk about the physics of golf. The angle of the golf club head helps to determine the distance the ball travels in the air and once it hits the ground. The greater the club speed hitting the ball, the lower you want the club face loft angle. This is because you want the golf ball to go farther and not higher. When you are closer to the green, you are more likely to use a higher numbered iron because it has a greater angle and won’t send the ball as far. The dimples on a golf ball also impact the flight path and distance of the ball. The dimples on the ball cause it to have a lower pressure and increase the Magnus effect (previous blog post). If the ball did not have any dimples and was completely smooth, it would have more drag force causing it to not travel as far.
  6. The Magnus Effect

    The Magnus effect happens to a spinning object that drags air faster on one side, which causes the object to move in the direction of the lower-pressure side. Here’s a video showing the Magnus effect in action: Newton’s third law helps to prove the Magnus effect because the object pushes the air in one direction and the air pushes the body in the other direction, an action-reaction force. With a ball spinning through the air, some of the air spins around the ball with it. The side of the ball traveling into the air slows down the airflow, while the other side of the ball increases the airflow. A greater pressure on the side of the ball with the slow air pressure causes the ball to move in the opposite direction – toward the lower pressure.
  7. Jet Stream

    When I flew to California and back last month, I noticed that it took more time to fly to California than it did to fly back to Rochester (even though it seemed shorter to fly to California because of the time zone difference). This happens as a result of the jet stream. The jet stream is a strong and narrow air current the circles the globe flowing from West to East. Jet streams occur because of the heating of the atmosphere from solar radiation and the Coriolis effect from the Earth’s axis of rotation. Jet streams are used to help aid in weather prediction, because the jet stream causes a lift of moisture in the air, which causes snow to form. Places directly below the jet stream will generally see more snow than other areas. Airlines also take into account the jet stream to predict the arrival times of flights so that passengers don’t miss their next flights. Turbulence on airplanes is also caused by the jet stream, but it doesn’t harm or affect anything directly. Here's an example of how the jet stream can affect the weather:
  8. Spill Proof Mug

    The other day I came across something talking about a spill proof mug. Since I do tend to spill drinks occasionally, I wanted to read about it. The cup uses a suction on the bottom of it to help prevent it from tipping over. Once the mug forms a seal with the surface it is on, the air pressure under it becomes smaller than the atmospheric pressure above the cup, resulting in the downward force keeping the cup on the table. Even when a small force is applied to the top of the cup that would usually tip the cup over, the suction on the bottom of the cup keeps the cup upright. Here’s a picture of the forces acting on the mug to keep it upright:
  9. Earth’s magnetic poles

    If you know me well, you know that I have lots of irrational fears that will most likely not happen, knock on wood (I’m also superstitious). One of these fears is that the magnetic poles of earth are switching, ever since I read an article about it in January. Earth’s poles switch about every 200,000 to 300,000 years, and considering the last major flip was 780,000 years ago, we are long overdue. The magnetic field helps to protect Earth from deadly rays, and if the poles switch, the protection would largely diminish and allow harmful radiation to get to us. Also, the electric grids would fail, meaning that anything and everything that uses electricity would no longer work. Since much of our daily lives is now reliant on electricity, we wouldn’t know how to live without it. However, it is still possible to survive once the poles switch since groups can come together to help prepare for what might happen and figure out ways to conserve energy As you can tell from the picture, a pole reversal would be very bad and cause a lot of chaos. So, hopefully, this doesn't happen for a long, long time.
  10. Snowboarding Slopestyle

    As I watched the Winter Olympics this February, I loved to watch the snowboarding slopestyle and couldn’t help but think of all the physics involved in getting the highest score. When the snowboarders start at the top of the hill, they are full of potential energy. As they make their way down the hill, the potential energy turns into kinetic energy. To create the flips and turns they do in the air, the snowboarders use angular momentum by applying an initial twist in their movement and that helping them spin in the air. They exert a torque from their body onto their snowboard to have the flips in the air. Once in the air, the snowboarders can use their arms to increase or decrease their rotational inertia, which causes them to twist more or less. The low friction of the snowboard on the snow helps the rider to keep their speed while going down the mountain and performing the necessary tricks.
  11. What's at the End of a Rainbow?

    Double rainbows are very cool to see, especially since the first one is so bright!
  12. Second Quarter

    This quarter was definitely stressful, but now we're halfway done with senior year!
  13. The Many World Theory

    Wow this is crazy to think about!
  14. Archery: The Physics of the Bow

    Archery is one of my favorite P.E. units too!
  15. A Heated Runway?

    I read something on this before and it would be very interesting if there was a way to implement the technology into all of the roads throughout the country!

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