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Tipsy

Did anyone else watch that show Minute to Win it? As I was trying to think of something the write my last physics blog post about I thought of one task in particular that contestants were asked to complete. The game was called “Tipsy.” To win, the contestant had to balance three soda cans on their edge by drinking some of the soda to the perfect level. The reason that this task is possible is because of physics and center of gravity. As the amount of soda in the can decreases, the center of grav

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The Suspense is killing me

A couple of years ago, my family traveled to San Francisco and one thing we did was see the Golden Gate Bridge. To my disappointment, it was not that bright red that you might see in pictures. Anyway, the Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge that is about three miles long and crosses the San Francisco Bay. With such a massive structure, one might wonder, how on earth does it stay up? Well, it has to do with the “suspension” part. By connecting cables to the middle of the bridge, up to tower

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New York City Cabs

Everyone knows that it’s a nightmare to drive in New York City, even if you don’t drive yourself. When I was there last weekend, because we flew there, we had to use cabs and the subway to get around. We encountered many shall we say…interesting drivers. One was yelling at the other cars in a different language, but one of my favorites was the one who thought it was a good idea to drive 60 mph down the streets of Manhattan at 11:30pm. This made for a thrilling trip back to our hotel. Unfortunate

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More Sherlock Physics

I’ve already talked a bit about the show Sherlock, but I realized that there is a lot more physics involved to talk about. In one episode, called His Last Vow, Sherlock is shot in the chest. It’s a bit complicated to explain, but in the moments of shock following, he processes what he has to do in order to stay alive. The first decision is whether to fall forward or backwards. Because the bullet didn’t go completely through him his best option is to fall backwards to reduce blood loss. However,

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Braking Planes

This past weekend my family flew to New York City, and as I thought about all the blog posts I had left to write, I tried to figure out what I could write about. And then, as we were landing, I realized that there was a lot of physics in the way a plane stops. Planes are able to travel at extremely high speeds and stop fairly quickly. What I didn’t know though, was what was used in planes as a braking system. It turns out that this can very with different planes. Some use a reverse thrust system

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Game On

When playing tennis, one way to control your shots is by putting spin on a ball. Tennis players do this by applying a force to the ball in different ways. This produces a different torque on the ball, changing its path after it bounces. If a ball is hit “flat” it is pretty predictable that the ball will bounce back at the same angle that it landed. To eliminate some of this predictability, a player can hit different shots that add top spin and back spin. When a player is at net, and their oppone

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Col Legno

As string player, one way that we can change the sound of the instrument is by playing “col legno.” This means that instead of using the side of the bow with hair on it, sound is made by bouncing the wooden side of the bow on the string. This provides a less lyrical and quieter sound. The reasons behind this change in sound are because of physics. The wooden side of the bow has a smooth surface, which contrasts the surface of the bow hair greatly. Bow hair has tiny grooves in it, which is ten co

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Even more swing physics

Who didn’t jump off swings when they were younger? Even as little kids, we knew that the best time to jump was when the swing reached it’s greatest height. By doing so, the maximum amount of gravitational potential energy is converted into kinetic energy when the person becomes a projectile. At a higher height, the velocity of the projectile is greater. If one were to jump off a swing at a lower height during its oscillation, the angle of projection would also be smaller. This could possible lea

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Bubbles

The other day, my seven year old cousin asked me, “how do bubbles work?” and I didn’t really know how to answer. So, I decided to answer her question in a blog post, or at least try to (even though she’ll never see it). It turns out the science behind soap bubbles is a bit complicated and there’s a lot that can be talked about but I think I’ll just focus on one part for now. Did you ever wonder why bubbles are always spherical? Laplace’s law states the larger the vessel radius, the larger the wa

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More on tire swings

If you happened to read the previous post about tire swings, hi, I’m the short friend! Anyway… I also noticed that the tire swing was a perfect example of physics in the real world. Tire swings are an example of simple harmonic motion, a pendulum to be exact. When the tire is lifted to a certain height and let go, it swings back and forth, ideally at the same height each time. However, because this is not a perfect world, and factors such as air resistance came into play, this was only somewhat

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More Violin Physics

When you think about string instruments and physics, the thing that most people think about is the vibration of the strings to make a sound. Notes can be changed by placing fingers at certain intervals to change the length of the string. But another way to change the sound of a violin, is by using a mute. A mute is most commonly made of rubber, and attaches to the bridge of the string instrument. When attached, it adds weight to the bridge and changes the fundamental frequency of the bridge, whi

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Surfing

Over the summer, I had to chance to take a surfing lesson. Surfing requires balance, and coordination, so I was not particularly good at it. One very important aspect of surfing was going from laying down on your stomach, into a standing position. When doing this, it was very important that you were in the right part of the board, so that you were at the center of mass of the system. If you were too far back on the board, the force of the wave moving forward could pull the surf board up and out

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Sailing

Recently we talked about flux and Gausses law. One thing that flux was compared to was the air of a fan hitting a wall. This could also be applied to sailing in a similar sense, even though it doesn’t involve electric fields. Electric flux is the electric field multiplied by the surface area of the plane the e-field is traveling through. When wind hits perpendicular to a sail, the force causes the boat to move. When it gets particularly windy, to prevent the force of the wind from causing the bo

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Here's the kicker

So I’m sure you’ve all seen it, but if you haven’t you should. A couple weeks ago, the Buffalo Bills kicker was seen on the sidelines slamming his football helmet to the ground after missing a field goal. After doing so, the helmet bounced off the ground, and hit him in the face. I won’t pretend to know anything about football, but I did see this, and I’m not going to lie, I watched the video multiple times. But this embarrassment could have been avoided if he had just known physics and been fam

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Canoe believe this?

Canoeing is an activity that requires a lot of upper body and core strength, that and kayaking. When you use a paddle to propel an objet, you are applying newton’s laws of physics. Newton’s second law of physics states that acceleration is dependent on mass and the force acting on the object. Newton’s third law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Both of these laws can be seen in canoeing. When the paddle is placed perpendicular to the water, and a person pushes

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Bungee Jumping

Bungee jumping is something that I would never do myself, but it involves a lot of physics in order to keep everyone safe and more importantly alive. Bungee jumping is a good example of simple harmonic motion. Bungee jumping companies have a variety of cords so that people of different weights can take the jump without hitting the bottom. It’s similar to the egg drop lab that we did, but with different variables, and the height of the drop being the constant. Because people have different weight

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Physics of Bikes

One of my friends is absolutely terrified of riding bikes because she says she feels like she’s going to fall off. However, falling off a bike is pretty hard, not “as easy as riding a bike,” and the reason is because of physics. Initially I thought the physics behind riding a bike was easy also. I thought that the reason bikes are so stable is because of the forward momentum that comes from the velocity of the bike, which makes sense why it's hard to stay upright at a slower velocity. Before wri

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Ice Skating

With winter comes cold temperatures and winter sports. Ice-skating is just one of many different winter sports that require attaching ourselves to small blades and boards.  Ice-skating involves a lot of physics, both basic and more in depth. Simply put, ice skating works because of the low amount of friction between the ice and the blade. The low amount of friction means that the force of friction slowing the skater down is minimal. A person can gain speed by applying a force to the ice through

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It's not the fall that kills you

This sounds dark, I know, but after watching the most recent episode of Sherlock this is one of the lines that stuck with me. "It's not the fall that kills you, it's the landing." And I realized that there must be physics behind it, and of course there is! The best part is that the physics behind it makes a lot of sense. If you are familiar with Sherlock, whether the to show or the Sherlock Holmes books, you are familiar with the Reichenbach Fall. In the show, this occurred in the city of London

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Why do we need snow tires?

As the temperature drops, and snow accumulates the risk of cars slipping on snowy roads increases. This hasn't happened yet here but it's sure to soon. The solution to this winter dilemma is snow tires. Snow tires have deeper and more “ridges” (that's a technical term), which allows for greater traction. On regular tires, snow and ice can buildup on the surface, which prevents the tire from having direct contact with the road, therefore reducing the coefficient of friction and the ability of the

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Physics of Skiing

Skiing is not just riding the chairlift up the hill, standing at the top of the trail, pointing your skis downward, and going, there's much more to it than that. Whether it's in the olympics or recreationally, skiers like to go fast, and know exactly how to do it. One way to increase speed is to cut down air resistance. To do this, skiers will tuck their body and bend their knees so that they are lower and closer to the ground. That way, there is less surface area for the force of air to work ag

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Sledding and Short People

As a short person, sledding has always been difficult for me. Going on a sled by myself, I could never go as fast as people with greater mass because I couldn't get the same momentum. But that wasn't the worst thing. The worst was going on a sled with someone else bigger than me. I always had to sit in the front of the sled. And that means getting hit in the face with chunks of ice and snow as we go barreling down a hill at speeds I wasn't used to. As unfortunate as it was, it had to be done bec

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The theatre the theatre, what's happened to the theatre?

This past weekend a fellow orchestra member went to perform in the area all state orchestra for junior high students. These ensembles are made up of students that auditioned during solo fest and received the highest scores in the county, area, or state. This got me to thinking about the times that I had done the same thing, and the places the concerts were held. For area all state at the junior high level they hold the concert at high schools in the area, but for all county high school ensembles

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Happy Fall Y'all

It's November now, and here that usually means snow. However, the weather has been a bit unusual lately and the leaves are still falling. Which brings us to the physics of falling leaves. It's a little more complicated than "leaves fall because gravity." This is true, but as we learned more this year, there are other forces acting on leaves in addition to gravity. In addition to the force of gravity, falling objects like leaves are affected by air resistance. Air resistance acts on an object in

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Another example of Physics in a Movie

Another movie that I've seen recently had a lot more to do with physics. In the movie Gravity, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (I forget their characters' names...oops) are astronauts that are working on the Hubble Telescope. In the whole movie, there was one scene that really stuck out, probably because I find it absolutely terrifying. When they are working on the telescope, another satellite in orbit is destroyed, and the pieces start to fly towards them. Sandra Bullock is attached to a cran

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