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Physics of Angry Birds

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While the once popular cell phone app reached its peak a couple of years ago, Angry Birds is a great example of projectile motion. The basic goal of the game is to launch the birds using a slingshot to knock out the green pigs. In order to knock out the pigs with the least amount of shots, you need to launch the birds with the correct initial velocity and at the correct angle. There are multiple different birds that are used in each level, including the standard red bird, a blue bird that turns into 3 birds when tapped, a yellow bird that changes to a faster velocity when tapped, a white bird that shoots down an egg when tapped, a black bird that blows up when tapped, and a green bird that turns into a boomerang when tapped. If we only look at the standard red bird, we can infer that the app does not take into account air resistance since the bird follows a parabolic path. Therefore, the horizontal component of the velocity stays the same and the vertical component of the velocity changes because of the acceleration due to gravity. The kinematics equations vf=vi+at , x=vit+1/2at2 , and vf2=vi2+2ax can be used to solve for the distance the bird will travel both vertically and horizontally using given variables. In order to cause the greatest damage, it is best to pull the slingshot back as far as it will go in order to have the greatest initial velocity and travel the greatest distance. Now playing Angry Birds should be much easier considering the projectile motion we have learned and how to calculate the correct initial velocity at the right angle in order to get the bird to travel the correct distance! While you most likely won't do any actual calculations, your estimations should be much closer and will hopefully help you get a higher score!


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