No one can deny that there are some great physics videos out there in the wild internet. Today, I found this one floating around--featuring what appears to be a worker that needs to get out of a cone-shaped hole. Oh sure, he could possibly climb up the side or maybe even use a rope as an assist. This guy studied his physics. He knows a great trick to get out of this hole--by running in circle. But how does it work?
One of the most basic things students do in a physics lab is to collect data and use that to build a model. Most of these models come in the form of a mathematical function. But here is the problem. For some reasons, students dislike representing these functions graphically. They are afraid to embrace the power of the graph. OK, let's do a simple experiment and use a graph to find a mathematical model. We are going to measure distance and time for an accelerating object and use that to find the acceleration.
When I'm out in the real world and I see something cool, I have to turn it into a physics problem. It's just what I do. In this case, I was changing planes in the Atlanta airport. Like many other airports, Atlanta has a mini subway to take you between terminals. You walk in, the doors shut and then it accelerates up to some traveling speed.
I don't normally watch many NASCAR races, but I do come across some NASCAR videos online. Sometimes these clips become the basis of a great physics problem. There are two things I find amazing about it: First, that a tiny collision between two cars can lead to a bunch of cars getting knocked out of the race. Second, that the cars have so much technology that none of the drivers was seriously injured. It's that bird's-eye view of the race, as seen from the blimp, that gets me thinking about physics.
When Boston Dynamics shares a new robot video, my robophobia levels increase just a little bit. There is something about these robots that get into the uncanny valley for me. This particular video is both fascinating and disturbing. It's fascinating because here are a bunch of robots pulling a truck (not a pickup truck--a real truck). It's disturbing because it shows a BUNCH of robots.