# projectile motion

Actually, it should be called Happy "Magnitude of the local Earth gravitational field" day. You know, 9.8 N/kg on September 8 (9/8). Get it? Well, the idea was for the physics students and faculty to build some stuff to do outside - projectile motion type stuff. Well, we had the idea a while ago and then kind of forgot about it.
In order to just get something done, I set up the "shoot the falling target" demo. (previously known as shoot the monkey). Here is a quick video demo (seriously - first take too).
What is going on here and what does this have to do with g? Well, it doesn't…

I might as well make a new tag called "basketball throws" because I can't stop with the analysis of these crazy basketball shots. Watch - in the end someone is going to post a video about how all these were faked (and I have said there is no clear evidence they are fake). Oh, if you want to see some shots that I am talking about - just search for Dude Perfect on youtube.
Physically, these crazy shots are possible. Time of flight in the video is comparable to a numerical model. But, the question is: how difficult are these shots? Are these one in a million? Are they easy? Are they…

Perhaps you have had enough time to think about the first "What is this" demo item. Here is the item in question.
It seems most of you were right on track with this one - probably because you can still buy such a device. This thingy launches a small ball horizontally while at the same time dropping a ball. It is supposed to show that the vertical and horizontal components of an object in projectile motion are independent.
It takes two balls (which I didn't have when I took the picture). One ball goes on each end and the arm is pulled back.
Update: Thanks to Kevin and Frank for pointing…

Reader Jorge has also looked at these amazing basketball shots. (here is my last basketball analysis) Jorge claims that at least one shot seems fake. He is referring to the following video (at around the 2:20 mark).
ARRGH Ok, new plan. For some dumb reason, youtube won't let me embed this video. Well, here is a link - Amazing Basketball Shots: The Legendary Shots 4 (at least I can link to the right time). It is even dumber that you can't embed it, but youtube gives you the download option. Oh well.
Let me tell you the part that Jorge has an issue with. This guy on a ladder throws a…

You know I have trouble letting stuff go, right? I am still thinking about these crazy long basketball shots. Here are some more thoughts.
Really, there are two things I am interested in. First, commenter Scott Post suggests that the drag coefficient might be around 0.25 instead of 0.5. I don't know. For the discussion before, it doesn't really matter. My point was to see a numerical model for a falling ball would be similar to the time and distance from the video. Changing the drag coefficient to 0.25 gives values that are still close to the video. So, I still think the video is real…

I have seen several videos similar to this.
Real? Fake? How many tries did this take? Let the analysis begin. Before I do any analysis, let me state that I think this is not fake. I do not know that for sure, just my first guess.
How would I tell if it is real or fake? This is tricky. I can't really get a good trajectory of the ball to make some measurements on it because of the camera angle (next time people, make sure you set the camera up perpendicular to the plane of motion and far enough away to avoid perspective problems - thanks!) Really, the best I can do is to look at the…

(alternate title: how to make pretty graphs in vpython)
I am happy. Finally, I can use the visual module in python (vPython.org) and plotting with Matplotlib. Maybe this isn't such a big deal for many of you, but for me, it never worked until now.
In the past, I blogged about plotting in vpython vs. matplotlib. My conclusion was that it was easier in vpython, but prettier in matplotlib. So, why not just use matplotlib? There are a couple of things that make vypthon very attractive.
Vectors. Vpython has a built in vector class (or function - I don't know what I am talking about). There…

Honestly, I was going to add this to my previous post about the jumping car but I didn't because I wanted to finish. So, here it is and more. Actually, I will just make a projectile motion spreadsheet. That way, anytime you want to do a projectile motion problem, you can come here. Maybe this is a bad idea, but I am going to do it anyway.
To start with, I will just say that for projectile motion the horizontal and vertical motions are independent (except for the time it takes). If you want a refresher on projectile motion, here you go. Oh, a couple of assumptions:
Object starts at x =…

Reader Colin asked a great question about this popular clip.
How fast was the car moving?
First, a quick assumption. I will assume that the frame rate on the video is correct (meaning not slowed down). Colin already looked up the length of the Chevy Impala on Wikipedia for me. It has a length of 5.09 meters (I need that to scale the video).
This is the data I get from Tracker Video. The graph below is the x-position of the car with a line fit to the part of the motion before it hit the "ramp". Note that since the car is moving to the left, it has a negative x-velocity.
So, this says the…

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…

Normally, it isn't really news when a show doesn't do anything wrong. I am making an exception for ESPN's Sport Science. Here is part 2 of Sport Science trying to reproduce Kobe Bryant's "jumping over a car" stunt.
And here is part 1 (although part 2 is the only interesting part). See. I can get along with Sport Science. Anyway, I am not sure that Kobe's jump used wires - but I assumed it was fake. Here is my analysis of Kobe's Jump (this stuff is old). And this is the plot I created from video analysis of Kobe.
The tough thing about looking at Kobe's jump is that he changes his body…

Here is a quick Apolo Ohno quiz. Which one of these pictures is fake?
If you picked picture B - you are probably correct. That is a picture of "Apolo" being catapulted into a pool of slime at the Nickelodeon awards show (click on the link to see the video - I don't think I can embed it). Ok - time to crank out an analysis.
I think I could approach this analysis from a couple of directions. Since all I have is a crappy version of the video, I could just look at "could this be possible"? The other analysis I could do would be to measure his acceleration in free fall. Let me start with…

I stumbled on this flash game Bloons. The basic idea is that you (the monkey) throw these darts and try to pop some balloons.
Well, what is the motion of these darts like? Is it constant acceleration? Time to pull out the free and awesome Tracker Video Analysis.
I threw a few shots and captured the screen with Mac OS X's quicktime X (which does screen recordings now). Then I chose a few of the motions to analyze. I was going to use Tracker's autotracker feature, but I am not sure how well it would work since the dart changes orientation (of course I didn't even try this to see if it…

This is great. Many people have already reported google's apple-dropping homepage in honor Newton's birthday. In case it disappears, here is a screen shot.
So, I got this awesome note from Dale Basler. He said that his class had analyzed this falling apple animation. What a very Dot Physics-y idea (check out his analysis). He said they were questioning the results which might be due screen capture issues. I decided to reproduce this.
I captured the motion with Apple's Quicktime X screen recording feature. I then used Tracker Video Analysis - which now has an autotracking feature that…

In part I of this post, I talked about the basics of projectile motion with no air resistance. Also in that post, I showed that (without air resistance) the angle to throw a ball for maximum range is 45 degrees. When throwing a football, there is some air resistance this means that 45 degree is not necessarily the angle for the greatest range. Well, can't I just do the same thing as before? It turns out that it is a significantly different problem when air resistance is added. Without air resistance, the acceleration was constant. Not so now, my friend.
The problem is that air…

Maybe you have noticed how much material there was (for me at least) in last week's MythBusters. One of the myths they looked at was the bus jumping over a gap in the road from the movie Speed. I am not looking at that myth, it has been discussed many times in many places. Rather, I am going to talk about scaling the motion. As typical with the MythBusters, they like to make a scaled down version of the event. It's cheaper that way. In this case, they made a 1/12th scale model of the bus and the road. The question was: how fast should the model go?
The first question to ask is: what do…

The more I think about the last MythBusters' exploding water heater, the more cool things I see. How about I look at the energy of the explosion. There are three things I can look at:
How much energy went into the water heater from the electric source?
How much kinetic energy did the water heater have right after the explosion?
How much thermal energy did the water and water heater have?
How much gravitational potential energy did the heater have at it's highest point?
Hopefully, I can show that the energy in from the electric source is greater or equal to kinetic plus thermal. Also, the…

This year's episode of Punkin Chunkin is coming up (I think tomorrow). Discovery just showed a teaser commercial with the specifications for one team's machine. If you are not familiar with Punkin Chunkin (World Championship Punkin Chunkin), the basic idea is to project some pumpkins. (note, if you waiting for the Discovery Channel show for the 2009 Punkin Chunkin, don't click on the previous link, it has the results already).
One of the categories for Punkin Chunkin is the centrifugal machine. These are machines that spin pumpkins around really fast in circles to shoot them. They are…

In my previous post on launching a pumpkin (punkin chunkin) I essentially just looked at what happens to the pumpkin after it is launched. How fast would you have to shoot it to go 1 mile? The answer seems to be around 1000 mph and they are currently shooting them around 600 mph.
The question for this post, how fast can you launch a pumpkin so that it does not smash into smithereens? First, why would it smash at all? Here is a diagram of a pumpkin being launched while still in the tube.
The pumpkin launcher works by releasing compressed air inside the tube. This means that the force…

Last night I saw the newest episode of MythBusters. One of the myths they revisited was the exploding water heater. Well, it turns out that I had an analysis of this first explosion, but I didn't move it over when I switched software. So, here it is.
In case you never saw the first episode of exploding water heaters, here is the important part:
If you are impatient, here are the answers (from the video analysis):
Time of flight = 11.8 seconds
Max height = 167 meters = 548 feet
Launch speed = 234 mph
Speed on impact with the ground = 76 mph
First, from re-watching the video, I can see (…