friction

Fact or Friction: Slow Earthquakes

Earthquakes are once again in the news, this time in Mexico. Although it is only the biggest quakes that make international headlines, we might take a minute to contemplate other quakes - the ones you'll never feel. So-called "slow" or "silent" earthquakes slip so softly they don't even show up on regular seismographic equipment. As the name implies, slow quakes release the energy built up along the fault over hours or even days, as opposed to mere seconds for a fast, shaking quake. So why should we care about what happens in earthquakes that even scientists have barely noticed? For one…

More on turning and braking

I can't let it go. There is more here to explore. First, I can't believe that I looked at braking and then turning but not turning then braking. And what about braking while turning? I will model braking and then turning - but it won't stop here. Consider a few motions. I could turn and then brake (which I am looking in this post). Another option would be to brake and then turn. I already showed that this takes a longer distance than just stopping. Braking and then turning in general won't work. Suppose I brake and slow down to a certain speed. Now I am a certain distance away from…

Turn or go straight? Quick!

This is a classic problem. You are in a car heading straight towards a wall. Should you try to stop or should you try to turn to avoid the wall? Bonus question: what if the wall is not really wide so you don't have to turn 90 degrees? Assumption: Let me assume that I can use the normal model of friction - that the maximum static friction force is proportional to the normal force. Also, I will assume that the frictional coefficient for stopping is the same as for turning. Stopping I am going to start with the case of trying to stop. Suppose the car is moving towards the wall at a speed…

Right Turn and Zombies

In my last zombie post, I looked at a human moving in a circle to avoid a zombie (if they are stuck in a room). What if I build a zombie evading robot that always moves perpendicular to the path of the zombie? Would this work? This shouldn't be too difficult to model. I can use my existing model for the zombie (where there is a force towards the human and a drag force). For the right-turning-robot, I will also have a drag force and a "driving" force. How do I find the direction of the driving force for the robot? Here is a diagram. This Fdrive force will really be the frictional force…

Experimental Rope Logarithms

Sue from Math Mama Writes... sent me an email about wrapping a rope around a pole. In that post, Sue thinks about rope looped around a post. When you wrap a rope around a post, the friction between the rope and the post can help you hold something (like a horse) that is much stronger than you. The first case she thinks about is using several posts. What if you wrap a rope around one post and pull? What if you use 2, or three posts? The idea is that if one posts 'multiplies' the force by 10, two posts would have an effect of multiplying by 100 and so forth. That seems reasonable. The…

Preemptive MythBusters: Giant Water Slide Jump

I am excited. This Wednesday, the MythBusters are doing the giant water slide jump. Maybe you are new to the internet and you haven't seen this video. Here it is: And since it is as old as the hills, of course I have already analyzed it - actually twice. First, the video is fake - but it is an excellent fake. Here is another site with details on how this was created. What did I look at in my previous posts? Here is a summary. The video is difficult to analyze because of perspective changes. Even with these problems, nothing says it has to be fake. The vertical acceleration during the…

Tablecloth and dishes trick - the BMW version

Hat tip to Frank for sending me a link to this video: If you have never done a demo like this (without the motorcycle), you should. It really isn't too difficult. Here is a video of my version: Inertial demo from Rhett Allain on Vimeo. So, the question is: is the motorcycle thing real or fake? First, let me talk about the key aspect of this demo. Why don't the glasses move? Well, they move - but just not very far. The demo is supposed to be an example of Newton's Second law, or you could say it is the momentum principle (which is what I will use). If a force is applied for a short time…

The wind giveth a little and taketh away a lot

I ride my bike and mostly the wind makes me unhappy. On a very few days the wind is with me on the way to work and then changes so that it is with me again. But most days the wind is fairly constant. So, if the wind is constant then shouldn't everything even out? (Even Stephen). Assumptions: Let me start with the assumption that I (a mere mortal) can output at a constant power (but not 57,000 Watts like some people). I will also assume an air resistance force that is proportional to the square of the relative air speed. Here is a diagram. A couple of quick things to point out. First,…

Apolo Ohno Physics

It is winter Olympics time and time for physics. The event that I always gets me thinking about physics is short track speed skating. It is quite interesting to see these skaters turn and lean at such high angles. All it needs is a little sprinkling of physics for flavor. Check out this image of Apolo (apparently, it is not Apollo). How about I start with a force diagram? I know what you are thinking...Fcent....what force is that? Yes, I am going to use the centrifugal force in this case - but remember that sometimes fake forces are awesome. In short, if I want to pretend like Apolo…

Simple Experiments with Friction

Now I get to do something with that force scale I built. I had a request some time ago to talk about friction. Friction is surprisingly complicated. When two surfaces rub against each other, why is there a friction force? The basic answer is that the stuff the two surfaces are made of (atoms) are interacting with each other. If you like, you could think of the bumps on one surface hitting the bumps on the other surface. I know I said it was complicated and that doesn't seem to complicated - does it? The complication comes when you try to model this interaction by looking at either all…

DIY Force probe

I was thinking about some experiments that deal with friction and I wanted to show something with a force probe. The problem is that most people don't have one of these. So, I decided to try and make one out of simple things. In this case, I am using some straws, a rubber band and some paper clips. Let me draw a little sketch of how this thing works. The basic idea is to use the rubber band to measure the force (by measuring the amount the rubber band stretches). The two paper clips do two things. First, it allows you to hook up the device to something (like hanging some Lego bricks on…

Sport Science, Pulling and Friction

Forgive me for all the posts on ESPN's Sport Science (example: Pulling and Power). I can't help myself. In the short episode recently, Sport Science compared a football player pulling a sled with huge tires on it to a truck pulling stuff. I think their goal was to compare the power per kg from for the player and the truck to show how awesome humans are (and let me just say that humans ARE awesome). The problem was that they really didn't give the truck a fair chance. For the first test, they had Marshawn Lynch pull 585 pounds of stuff. The real question should be: how hard does he have to…

I can pull more than 3000 POUNDS!

Note: This is part of my ongoing attack of ESPN's show Sport Science. Really, I am continuing to look at the episode where they calculate a football player can produce 57,000 Watts by pulling some stuff. Wait...I don't want to limit my stuff to Sport Science. I see this stuff all the time. The problem is that people confuse the force needed to move something with its weight. So, you want me to pull something? Great, I am a physics guy. I could probably pull maybe 100 pounds. That seems reasonable? But wait! I will increase it to 500 pounds! That is like two huge football players.…

Sport Science: Pulling and Power

I would like to continue my attack on the show Sport Science - ESPN. In this short episode, they are comparing the power of NFL player Marshawn Lynch with that of a truck. You can watch it here if you would like. There are two things that are not quite right with this episode, first, the power thing. I will save the friction problem for another post. So, if you didn't watch that clip, the basic idea is that Marshawn pulls some heavy tires. Sport Science then calculates the power needed to do this and then repeats a similar thing for a truck. Quick review. What is power? In short,…

Yo-Yo: Rolling, sliding, pulling

This is actually been sitting around for a while waiting for me to post it. Here is another short Christmas-toy demo. I am going to pull this yo-yo at different angles and on two different surfaces. Check it out. What is going on here? Let me look at the first case where I pull the yo-yo and it slides without rolling. Here is a diagram. Normally, I would just say - "hey - a free body diagram". And this is one, but you have to be careful. Normally, a free body diagram treats an object as though it were a point mass. You can't do that in this case because you have to consider rotation…

Lab: The Charge of an Electron

Not really. Here are the details (and some data) for the Millikan Oil Drop Experiment without the oil drop that I talked about previously (originally from The Physics Teacher - lucky you, it was a featured article so it should still be available (pdf)). The basic idea that Lowell McCann and Earl Blodgett from U of Wisconsin propose is to do an experiment similar to the oil drop experiment, but not so squinty (if you have done the oil drop experiment, you know what I mean). Instead of dropping charged oil in an electric field, they drop containers with metal nuts in water. The goal is to…

MythBusters and the physics of knock your socks off

The other myth the MythBusters looked at last week was the phrase "knock your socks off" (along with the dropping and shooting a bullet myth). But before that, let me complain. Maybe it is just me, but I totally cringe when these guys use the word 'force'. Force probably isn't the best term to use to describe a collision especially when you are talking about one of the objects. "oh, we will just give this object some more force to impact with that other object". Force is not a property of an object, but rather an interaction between two objects. When two things collide, you really need…

Snow Board Jump Help

I really shouldn't do this. I might be helping someone to set up something dangerous. But, I am going to anyway. Here is a question posted on some forum. (actually, it is from math help forum) "I'm anticipating a good winter this year, one with lots of snow. My yard is sloped quite a bit and it would be the ideal place for a huge snowboard jump, only problem is I need to calculate how fast I will be traveling when I hit the jump, how high and what angle the jump should be, and the distance and angle of the landing ramp to optimize my range." So, what am I going to do? I am going to give…

Parkour Physics: Wall Climb

Forgive me if I don't know the official parkour term for this move. This is where you have two walls that are close to each other and you vertically climb them. Here is a shot of Mark Witmer (from Ninja Warrior) doing the wall climb. Doesn't look too hard, does it? Well, I think it depends on how far apart the two walls are. This is actually one parkour move that my kids like to do (Hey kids! Don't do that! Let me get my camera though because this will be perfect for my blog) I am going to start with this second kind of wall climb. Simply because it is easier due to symmetry. So,…

More on the Giant Water Slide Jump

This Giant water slide video is extremely popular on the internets. Maybe you have not seen it (doubtful), then here it is: This is such an incredible stunt that the very first question that comes up is - fake? or not fake? From my previous analysis, I can say: Even though there is some slight perspective issues, the vertical acceleration seems to be constant and has a reasonable scale to give the acceleration of -9.8 m/s2 The horizontal motion is essentially constant (as a real jump would be) The launch speed is about 19 m/s The launch angle is 32.8 degrees If the guy had no friction on…