You know what irritates me? NCIS. Not the Navy’s law enforcement agency, the TV show about that organization. I’m generally a fan of Law and Order style police procedurals, but that one just rubs me the wrong way. Why? The fetishize law breaking. Not the law breaking of the criminals they investigate, they themselves go out of their way to break the law. Need a DMV record? Hack their computers, don’t bother to actually call and ask them or get a warrant. Suspect not talking? Give the Mossad officer on loan to NCIS fifteen minutes alone with the suspect. A relative accused of murder based on overwhelming evidence? Hide her from the police and obstruct the investigation. Anyway, it rather defeats the whole “rule of law” thing democratic nations like to have and they do it every episode, usually repeatedly.
“But Matt,” you implausibly say, “you like 24 and it’s much worse by that standard.” Yep, that’s true. But 24 is deliberately preposterous – like criticizing Star Trek because all the aliens look like humans, dissecting civil rights problems in 24 misses the point. But shows like NCIS are explicitly about real law enforcement agencies acting in typical circumstances. I’m therefore not happy about their tendency to completely ignore the law in the name of enforcing it.
Is there going to be any physics in this post? Sure. Totally unrelated to any of the above, but hey, at least the laws of physics aren’t breakable. In fact, let’s pose this one as a question. Purely qualitative, I’m not going to make you solve the equations.
A ball with some initial velocity v rolls without slipping up a hill of height h. The top of the hill is actually the edge of a cliff, so when the ball reaches that height h it flies horizontally off the cliff and falls back to the ground that same height h below. There is no rolling resistance or air resistance. The ball hits the ground with a total velocity:
a) less than v
b) equal to v
c) greater than v
This (with numbers) was a homework problem my 201 students had to do. It’s one of the more interesting problems in the chapter. I’d have given it to them as a quiz problem but the algebra is a little tedious for the ten minutes or so they have to take the quiz. Conceptually though that multiple choice question can be answered without any math, just a little thought.
I’m sure someone in the comments will get it right, but if not I’ll post the answer tomorrow.