equilirium

Of course I am talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger. After looking at how many bullets he carries in Commando, I remembered this scene (also from Commando) (warning: maybe some not great language and some killing. You have been warned) If you don't want to watch that clip, here is a shot (sorry for the quality). Clearly Arnold is strong, but there is more than strength involved here. Oh, don't bring your "he did it with wire stuff". I am not buying that. Also, I am talking about THE Arnold - he is real. I am not talking about the character in the movie (not real). Now for some physics…

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…

Stratos Jump for Mere Mortals

Crazy, but I was on CNN Saturday night. They contacted me at the last minute to talk about the Red Bull Stratos Jump. Here is a screen shot to show that I am not making this up (or that I have awesome photoshop skillz). Looking back, maybe I looked like an idiot. Really though, it wasn't my fault. I thought we were going to talk about physics. The first two questions threw me for a loop. Here are the two questions and my response (roughly paraphrased): Will Felix survive the jump? Answer: I guess so. Is there a scientific reason for this jump? Answer: I thought we were going to talk…

Oak Trees are awesome

In this part of the world, we have oak trees. Technically they are called live oaks - but I don't get it. Of course they are alive. I was at a soccer game and this is the tree I always look at. Look how far those limbs extend horizontally. That branch is about 12 meters long. Why is this amazing? Have you ever tried to hold an 8 foot 2 x 4 board horizontally by holding one end? Pretty tough. How about I calculate the forces needed to hold that branch in place? I will do a simple model and then maybe later I can make it more complicated. Suppose I replace that limb with one straight…

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…

The physics of Michael Jackson's moonwalk

Was the moonwalk fake? No, not the Apollo landings. I am talking about Michael Jackson's moonwalk. You got to admit, he had a big impact on a lot of stuff and this is my way to give him respect - physics. I am sure you know about the moonwalk. Maybe you can even do the dance move yourself, but how does it work? First, here is a clip of MJ doing his stuff. As a side note, I can't remember where I saw it but there was a great discussion of the history of the moonwalk. If I recall correctly, some were saying Michael didn't create this move. One thing is for sure, he made it popular. Now…

Friction Demo with a meterstick

This is one of my favorite demos. Easy to do and doesn't really require any equipment. The basic idea is that you support a meter stick horizontally with two fingers. Slide your fingers in and they will both meet at the center of mass. Here is a video. Meterstick friction demo from Rhett Allain on Vimeo So, how does it work? To explain this, you need to understand friction and equilibrium. Well, nobody really understands friction - but anyway.. First, what is equilibrium? Equilibrium means that an object's motion does not change. For this case that means that both it's velocity and it…

The Physics of Baby Carriers

This is something I have thought about for some time. It is also something I (as a father of 4) have a lot of experience with. The problem is these infant car carriers. In the car they are not a problem. The problem is out of the car. Not sure what I am talking about? Here is a picture: I don't mean to attack the infant carrier industry. I am sure some people really like these things. For me, there is only two situations that are good for taking the seat out of the car. In a restaurant. The infant seat works well with those toddler high chairs. Most of the current infant seat…

The Iron Cross - or: Why is Gymnastics so Darn Difficult?

I know the olympics are basically over. Really, I should have posted this earlier. Anyway, the gymnastics feat that always impresses me is the Iron Cross (I think that is what it is called). I know you have seen this, but here is a picture from wikipedia: ![Example 2ofironcross](http://scienceblogs.com/dotphysics/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/example-2…) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rings_(gymnastics)) Why is this so impressive? Why is this so difficult? Let me start with something completely different that is exactly the same (in some ways). Here is a heavy box hung from a rope that has…