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Boy Scout Physics Swag



I happen to both be a Boy Scout as well as a physics student which I believe to be probably the coolest combination ever.

Sooooooo, I decided to apply my physics knowledge to my Boy Scout skillz!

On a recent campout to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon I decided to bring a hammock as a lighter alternate to a tent since I would be hiking around 10 miles. When I packed my things I decided to just grab some random rope from my garage for my hammock... which could have been a bad idea! Luckily the rope held up but I decided to find just how strong the rope had to be!

Now the hammock was strung up between 2 trees with knots on each side and me in the middle. I weigh about 170 pounds or 77.1 kg which will be very important in finding tension or "T".

Since the hammock is in equilibrium we can use Newton's 2nd Law to find T. The net force in the x direction on the right is equal to the net force on the left. Since both ropes were at about a 30 degree angle we can then say the Tensions are equal so -Tsin30 + Tsin30 = 0. Then since ups must equal downs we can say 2Tsin30 = mg or rewritten T = (mg)/(2sin30) which gives us T!

Now lets plug in numbers T = (9.8x77.1)/(2sin30) or T = 755.8 Newton's. That was the tension in the rope of my super comfortable hammock.

Maybe in a future blog post I will determine just how strong that rope was... or maybe not that could be quite challenging...

The average strength of say paracord is about 250 pounds or 1107.4 Newton's and what I was using was certainly not as strong as paracord! So I guess this times I can count my lucky stars I wasn't sleeping on the ground, and maybe next time I should BE PREPARED with some stronger rope!

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