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Cheetahs


esmith

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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 running (instead of doing your webassign) you can see that when the cheetah changes direction, it flicks its tail like a rudder to steer itself. Like a car, if a cheetah were to attempt a tight turn at a high speed, it would tip over. This is due to the rotational inertia of the cheetah/car and the torque provided to accelerate it. The flicking of the tail provides a reactive torque that counteracts the tipping motion and helps the cheetah stay upright. In fact, the cheetah's tail is so effective that engineers in South Africa have developed a car that is able to turn sharply at high speeds with the help of a tail like structure in the rear. This design could help emergency vehicles move much faster ad potentially save lives.

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