Scorpion Season 1 Episode 20: "Crossroads"
I really thought it would not get worse than a man standing on the wing of an accelerating plane, but I was wrong. In this episode, the team is trying to protect a witness from a gang that is trying to kill her and so obviously we have some high speed chases and what not. Well, according to the show, an RV travelling at 100 mph (~44.7 m/s) can make an almost 90-degree turn without crashing, tipping over, or slowing down at all. So, I'm going to use this blog post to prove them wrong.
The first link here will explain the situation, the second is the RV making the turn.
(Skip to about 3:00 for the important part)
I'm actually going to talk about the fact that Happy and Walter were able to use longboards to roll under the RV while it was in motion first and it'll set me up for the discussion about the RV making that turn. These are some big longboards, so lets say all together one board weighs 8 pounds (~3.63 kg). A mass of 3.63 kg accelerated at about 44.7 m/s2 (given that board was not moving until it was set on pavement, at which point it travelled at the same speed at the RV it was tied too) creates a force (using F=ma) over about 162.3 N. Obviously I ignored friction, so there is room for error here. Now we add the average weight of a woman- about 140 lb (~63.5 kg)- bringing the total weight of the board with Happy on it up to about 67.13 kg. Thus, the force created increases to about 3000.7 N (~674.6 lb) and Toby should never have been able to hold the rope after this point. Quite honestly, they must have tied the other end to something very strong and/or heavy otherwise the rope would never have held and Happy would have roll off on her own. Interestingly, it is possible for her to step on the to the board once it is moving at the same speed as the RV, which also why she can move herself underneath the RV. Since she is moving the same speed as the board (because she was moving that speed inside the RV) it is like walking around inside the RV. Its the principle of inertia, her mass is moving at the same speed and thus is not displaced when she takes the step. Here is gets impossible again: she lets go and is able to roll all the way to the back of the RV and climb through the window. There should not be any slack in the rope, otherwise she would have to hold the force generated by her weight on her own, and she was barely holding on to the bottom of the car. Plus there is no way anyone could hold 674.6 lb for more than a few seconds. Anyways, you're probably wondering what all this has to do with the RV turning.
Here's the kicker: Walter was still under the RV when it made the turn. Disregarding the fact that the RV never should have made the turn, Walter should have been thrown of the edge anyway. Once again, we are talking about inertia. The average male weighs 180 lb (~81.6 kg), so the force even greater for him (approximately 3809.78 N or 856.47 lb). Now I don't know anything about the rope besides that it is relatively thin (maybe 1 inch in diameter maximum) and braided very small if at all. It most likely would not be able to hold that force since the mass of Walter and the board would try to keep moving forward (an object in motion stays in motion) while the RV turned. With huge weight and force of the RV moving in a completely different direction than Walter on the longboard, the rope probably should have broke and Walter should have been flung over the cliff.
Finally, I've gotten to the RV making the turn. Okay so here's the thing, that RV was travelling at 100 mph at least and Paige (the one driving) showed no signs of breaking Plus, there is no way the RV could have slowed from 100 mph to a speed slow enough to make that turn (probably a speed more like 30 mph given the sharpness of that turn) in the few seconds Paige had to slow down that car. So, without breaks, a RV that is most likely 13,000 to 30,000 pounds and 30 to 40 feet in overall length is expected to make an almost 90-degree turn WITHOUT falling over. In reality, all of the weight in the RV would have been pushed to the outside while it made that turn and the RV would have tipped to the left and fallen on its side. Not to mention the fact that the an RV of that length would need to take the turn even slower in order to fit around the sharp curve, which is even more reason for RV to never have made the turn in the first place.
Ok, long rant over. I'm sorry about the length, but there was alot to talk about with this one. Anyways thanks for reading!
OH! By the way, new favorite quote from Scorpion: