Dot Physics

It is good to be wrong

I have one more comment about the previous MythBusters episode where they compared two cars crashing into each other at 50 mph vs. one car crashing into a wall at 100 mph. At the end of the episode, Jamie reflected on the experiment. He said something like (regarding how he incorrectly thought one car at 100 mph was the same as 2 at 50 mph):

i-029165f7afab300ea20ae5e3a52de627-2010-05-07_vid00923mp4_2.jpg

“….that was a mistake. You know what? I am ok with that. That is how you learn stuff”

What a great attitude. I think this is something many students miss out on. Which is better, taking a class where you know everything and don’t even need to study – or a class that confuses you and makes you feel like you are going to pass out? Well, the first class doesn’t do anything for you. If you already know it, you can’t learn it.

If I go back to my favorite learning-exercise analogy, if you work out and don’t even break a sweat – did you work out?

Comments

  1. #1 D. C. Sessions
    May 8, 2010

    Was the Michaelson-Morley experiment a failure?

  2. #2 Cleon Teunissen
    May 9, 2010

    Speaking of learning something:

    Jamie and Adam often get to work with Helium, and we all know that when you’ve inhaled some Helium your voice goes all funny.

    (But it’s dangerous. Helium is not poisonous, but if the lungs become filled with Helium it takes time to vent the lungs again, and all that time no oxygen is getting to the blood. Serious suffocation incidents have happened.)

    Is it true that the Helium makes the pitch of your voice higher?

    Joe Wolfe of the University of New South Wales, Australia, points out that in fact Helium does not change the pitch of your voice, and naturally he also explains why there’s such a strong impression that it does.

    Joe Wolfe’s page about the physics of speech

    I’d love to see Adam and Jamie visit that as a myth, as an example of how appearance can be deceptive.

  3. #3 Rhett Allain
    May 9, 2010

    @Cleon,

    Interesting – I will have to check out that physics of speech link.

  4. #4 tucker@cc.gatech.edu
    May 12, 2010

    Hi Rhett,

    Speaking of admitting you were wrong, I wonder if you have seen the videos yet of the downwind vehicle: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1410622076126&ref=mf

    Can you take a lesson from Mythbusters? Only time will tell.

    regards,

    Tucker

  5. #5 Rhett Allain
    May 13, 2010

    @tucker,

    Honestly, I have not revisited these ideas in a long while. I should probably go back and look at them, but you know how things go. Thanks for sharing the video – nice.

  6. #6 spork
    May 21, 2010

    “Honestly, I have not revisited these ideas in a long while. I should probably go back and look at them, but you know how things go. Thanks for sharing the video – nice”

    You have not revisited these ideas in a long time, but the HAVE been brought to your attention more than once. I’ve sent you links to videos of our vehicle doing exactly as advertised. It seems clear you haven’t revisited the ideas precisely BECAUSE you don’t want to do what you commend the Mythbusters for doing – admitting you were wrong.

  7. #7 spork
    May 22, 2010

    After explaining that JB and I were perpetual motion nuts, you said: “Dear MythBusters. When you do an episode on this topic, please mention my blog. It will make my kids think I am cool.”

    Well how about it Rhett, don’t you think it’s time to set the record straight? Don’t you think your kids would think you were “cool” if you admit you were wrong? I thought that was the theme of today’s sermon.

  8. #8 Skater
    May 27, 2010

    I also wrote you about the downwind vehicle with the quested whether you’d looked at your “calculations” recently. Being wrong hurts, but as a scientist, figuring out and then explaining to pupils WHY you were wrong, and WHY this technology is real, should be part of your job oath or something.

    This is a pretty HUGE technology to get wrong, let alone be overlooked by mankind. Compared to which type of crash is worse. Can we surpass wind speed, ever so slightly, was the question? NO the answer from the academic world.
    Well, these guys are pushing wind speed TIMES THREE. A mild breeze, and a cart going a high-way legal speeds, directly downwind. They’re a determined bunch, but this cart was powered by more than will-power…

    It opens up wind-powered traffic. Public transport even.

    The DDWFTTW team have inspired me to come up with some traffic solutions, that seem to point to the possibility of having cars, trains, even boats, running on wind power alone. Windless patches of course to be overcome with batteries continiously being topped off during use.
    I even have an idea for a wind powered airplane. If the wind can blow leaves through the streets, why can’t we use the wind to fly, when scaled up? I think we can.

  9. #9 MikeB
    May 27, 2010

    I guess someone should have suggested to the MythBusters crew that two cars colliding head on at 50 mph might be the same as one car at 100 mph colliding with another motionless car, not with a “brick wall”.

  10. #10 Skater
    May 29, 2010

    Comments closed, just when wrong became close to being proven at man-sized-scale, and denial wasn’t helping anymore…

    http://blog.dotphys.net/2008/12/physics-and-directly-downwind-faster-than-the-wind-dwfttw-vehicles/

    Jamie admitted wrong on TV, how hard is it to do it on a blog, and THEN explain which part you failed to understand despite people trying to explain it to you?

    Man up!

    Skater
    -Still remembers the dark day when he turned out wrong himself.

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