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If this blog were a graph it's be jerk vs time graph

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Really Tall Things

Mankind likes big things. We like gigantic iPhones, Venti Lattes, and skyscrapers. The pyramids of Egypt represent perhaps man's earliest obsessions with making big things. As children, we stack wooden blocks until they topple and injure the cat. We are a species obsessed with bigness. But how big could we build? The current tallest building in the world is pretty big, but it's miniscule compared to the towering peak of Mt. Everest. The world's tallest buildings keep getting bigger, but eventual

esmith

esmith

 

A Few Thoughts...

Last weekend I attended the high school's production of All Shook Up. It was a nice show but a few things stood out to me. The first was that the string of lights they used in the abandoned fairgrounds scene was wired in parallel. Some of the lights were out, but the rest still shone on, because there was still a path for current to get from one bulb to the other, whereas in a series configuration, a dead bulb would block all current flow and cause the all of the remaining bulbs to go dark. Prop

esmith

esmith

 

And Automobiles

If you've ever driven late at night with an irresponsible teenage driver, you've most likely involuntarily been a part of some pretty crazy car stunts. The good old fashioned Tokyo drift and doughnut are classic examples of things that should not be done with a car. But like most things that are bad for you, they are pretty cool. A stunt that doesn't get a lot of love is the wheelie. It's one thing to pop one on a bike or a Razor scooter, but to do it with a four-wheeled car is on a whole other

esmith

esmith

 

Trains

Possibly the coolest form of transportation is undoubtedly trains. They're just so darn cool. While some might write off trainsportation as a relic of the days of Manifest Destiny, it's actually becoming much more useful and cool thanks to science. The newest generation of trains does not run on short men in conductor hats shoveling coal into an engine: they run on magnetism. The trains work by strapping a very powerful magnet onto the bottom of the train and having another very powerful magnet

esmith

esmith

 

Planes

A major concern for planes in a harsh winter climate like our own is the threat of ice forming on the wings. This could potentially interfere with the lift caused by air passing over the wings and cause the plane to cease to function properly. Currently, ice is dealt with by spraying the wings with a deicing agent. This chemical lowers the melting point of the ice, causing it to melt. This process works most of the time, but it can be extremely expensive. That's why smart people have come up wit

esmith

esmith

 

The Office

The only thing to do is get right back on that horse. In an episode of The Office, the character Michael Scott attempts to prove that working in an office is just as dangerous and exciting as working with heavy machinery in the warehouse by pretending to jump off the roof of the building. Michael's plan is to jump down onto a trampoline which he believes will break his fall. However, falling from a three story building (about 9m) onto a trampoline would be far from safe. Firstly, the trampoline

esmith

esmith

 

A Brief Addendum

It is with great shame that I issue the following public apology. In a previous post, since deleted for the safety and well-being of this community's physics students, I committed crimes against humanity, and even worse, crimes against physics. I claimed that if one were to stick a knife into an outlet, they would not be electrocuted because the circuit could not be completed. This would be true in a vacuum, but I failed to take into account the fact that in being connected to the ground, one wo

esmith

esmith

 

Iron Man

Because apparently all I do is watch movies all the time and I don't want to do any actual work (unless one would dare call physics work rather than fun), I am going to reprimand yet another movie for its lack of concern for physics. In the movie Iron Man 3, there is a scene in which a plane explodes or something I wasn't paying that much attention and people end up falling through the air. Eventually, they presumably reached terminal velocity considering they fell from fifty thousand feet (or a

esmith

esmith

 

More Issues with Star Wars

It's no secret that George Lucas doesn't give a hoot about physics, but just for the heck of it here is another issue I have with the film series. The films frequently feature intense laser fights both in outer space and on land, but what doesn't make sense is why the lasers are visible. Given that lasers would have to be highly energized beams of light to do so much damage, they should not be visible unless refracted. Those of you who remember Mr. Powlin's green laser pointer will no doubt reme

esmith

esmith

 

Double Bouncing

If you were rich enough or your parents were lenient enough to let you have a trampoline when you were younger, you almost certainly attempted a double bounce. This occurs when two people bounce at the same time causing one to shoot much higher in the air and possibly shatter a collarbone. The double bounce is merely a case of conservation of energy. When two people jump on the elastic trampoline, their gravitational potential energy is converted into elastic potential energy in the trampoline.

esmith

esmith

 

Fork

In the attached picture, it appears that the pair of forks defy gravity. This is not possible, so how do the forks manage to balance. The secret lies in their center of mass. As you know, the center of mass of an object is the place where it balances on a pivot in all directions. In this case, the bend of the forks makes the center of mass directly on the edge of the cup. This allows the system to balance easily and give the illusion of defying gravity. This is a useful parlor trick for distract

esmith

esmith

 

Wait, the Earth IS flat?

After writing my last blog post, I came across the following website: https://www.tfes.org/ It is the homepage for an organization called the Flat Earth Society, which, as you might have guessed, believes the Earth is actually flat. This would seem to imply that all scientific evidence pointing to a round Earth is a product of the government and the globe manufacturing lobby. But while their idea is obviously wrong, the science behind it is not. In my previous post, I wrote about the effect a di

esmith

esmith

 

What if the Earth was flat?

A common misconception is that Christopher Columbus discovered that the Earth was round, and that, before then, people all thought it was flat. Actually, a round Earth has been widely acknowledged and accepted in the scientific community since the days of Ancient Greece. But what if the Earth actually was flat? For starters, we would have to throw out most of the laws of physics as we know them, as a disk as massive as the Earth would collapse into a ball under its own gravity. But if somehow th

esmith

esmith

 

Mysterious Coin Flip Magic

Prior to the beginning of overtime in last weekend's Packers v. Cardinals game, referee Clete Blakeman (definitely sounds like a fake name) attempted to flip the coin. Except he didn't. The coin did not flip at all. This prompted an outburst from Packers quarterback and insurance salesman Aaron Rodgers, who demanded a reflip. Blakeman obliged and the Packers subsequently lost. But how does a professional who has likely flipped hundreds of coins in his lifetime manage to screw up like this? Exclu

esmith

esmith

 

Cheetahs

Today we're going to talk about the world's biggest cheetah (and for once I'm not talking about Brady). As we all know, cheetahs are the fastest land mammal and can reach speeds of up to 110 km/hr (that's 30.56 m/s for you physics purists out there) and are the only member of the genus Acinonyx. But what you probably don't know is how a cheetah is able to run so fast and change direction quickly enough to catch its prey. The secret lies in the cheetah's tail. If you watch a video of a cheetah ru

esmith

esmith

 

Journey to the center if the Earth

One of the practice AP questions in this unit's packet gave me a little trouble when it asked what the force of gravity would be at the center of a planet. Mathematically, it would make sense that gravity is strongest at the center of the planet because gravitational force is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the centers of mass of the two objects. But if gravity is a product of mass, then once the object reaches the center, it would be equally pulled in all directions

esmith

esmith

 

How not to move large quantities of furniture

The other day I was walking a dog when I saw a rather strange sight. Two men were sitting in a driveway in a beat-up old pickup waiting to turn onto the main road. On the back of this pickup truck was a massive pile of furniture. I quickly counted an armoire, four chairs, a table, and a dresser all balances precariously on top of each other. While a normal human being would have secured this unstable load in one way or another, these two men decided to take a laissez faire approach. They left th

esmith

esmith

 

Drag

An aspect of drag force I had not considered before was momentum. When an object runs into air molecules, momentum is conserved. This would imply that resisting force is caused by the bombardment of the object by air molecules. Since momentum is directly proportional to velocity, it would stand to reason that drag force is also proportional to velocity. Additionally, it makes sense that by changing the momentum of the air molecules, a force is exerted. This force acts to slow the object down (or

esmith

esmith

 

Torque Team

Sometimes I work as a part-time gardener to make enough money to support my lavish lifestyle. The other day I was attempting to break off a dead branch that was an eyesore and also conveniently placed at a height where a passerby might bump his or her noggin on it and sue for millions. So I needed to take it down. At first I tried breaking it with sheer force. Despite my manliness and ripped biceps, I could not seem to break the sturdy limb. The branch would bend but it would not break, as I was

esmith

esmith

 

Friction in space

As you know, space is a vacuum. This means there is no friction. Using this reasoning I ridiculed the characters of the low-budget 1970s Star Wars knock-off Battlestar Galactica when they claimed they could only turn off the engines to their spaceship and drift for a small amount of time. Couldn't they just accelerate to a fast speed, turn off their engines, and just coast to their destination. After all, there is no friction to slow them down. This would greatly expand their range and cut down

esmith

esmith

 

Quantum Suicide

In the strange discipline that is quantum physics there are many facets that are equal parts fascinating and confusing. One of these is Max Tegmark's thought experiment known as quantum suicide. In his thought experiment (which could only occur in his mind, as there is no way to test this theory in the real world), a man sits in a room with a gun. The trigger is linked to monitor the spin of a quantum particle. When the man pulls the trigger and the particle is detected to be spinning clockwise,

esmith

esmith

 

Why do balls bounce?

While I was throwing bricks at the neighbor's cat the other day, a strange thought occurred to me: why is it that a rubber ball will bounce when it hits the ground bu these bricks do not. To answer that question I turned to my trusty frenemy physics. The reason a rubber ball bounces is because it is made out of an elastic material. This means that, like an elastic band, it can be bent and stretched but still return to its normal shape. When a ball hits the ground (or the neighbor's cat), the sur

esmith

esmith

 

Space

One of the greatest myths in popular culture is that if one were to go into outer space without a spacesuit then their blood would boil and they would explode. Neither of these things are true. While the lack of pressure would lower the boiling point of your blood and cause your bodily fluids to expand, the only ill effects would be very painful swelling. The stretchiness of your skin would prevent you from exploding (I wonder what the spring constant of human skin is). Rather than instantly exp

esmith

esmith

 

Automatic Doors

One of mankind's greatest inventions is the automatic door. The idea that one once had to actually push or pull open the door to a department store now seems barbaric. But how do these marvels of modern engineering work? How does the omnipotent sliding door know that we, the humble customers, are there and require entrance to the establishment. Most automatic doors operate using a motion sensor. Motion sensors work by sending out microwaves and detecting motion using the same principle that astr

esmith

esmith

 

Guy in a pool

While perusing the internet in order to further delay my impending calculus homework, I came across this picture. While I did not Google "studly old man in pool with head and forearm detached from body," I found it anyway. While the average medieval peasant might think this image the work of black magic or Photoshop, I as a student of physics recognized it as merely a demonstration of the wave properties of light. The reason his head and forearm are not attached to the rest of his body is becaus

esmith

esmith

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