Winter Olympics 2018: The Physics of Blazing Fast Bobsled Runs

WIRED

I don't know very much about bobsleds--but I know quite a bit about physics. Here is my very brief summary of the bobsled event in the winter Olympics. Some humans get in a sled. The sled goes down an incline that is covered in ice. The humans need to do two things: push really fast to get the thing going and turn to travel through the course.


This Tug of War With a Lion Isn't About Strength--It's About Friction

WIRED

Apparently you can battle a lion at the San Antonio Zoo. There is a thick rope passing through a hole. On one end, there is a lion cub. On the other end of the rope there could be three professional WWE wrestlers. Well, the wrestlers don't win.


The Surprisingly Cool Physics of Pushing a Block Against a Wall

WIRED

This is a cooler physics problem than I initially realized. It goes something like this. A block has a mass of 1 kg and is placed on a vertical wall such that the coefficient of static friction is 0.5. With what magnitude force do you need to push on the block perpendicular to the wall to keep the block from falling? Here, a picture will help.


Estimate the Pulling Force of Boston Dynamics' Robo-Dog Army

WIRED

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.


The Physics of a Tesla Model X Pulling a Boeing 787

WIRED

This is pretty cool--an electric car pulling a full size commercial aircraft, apparently for the first time ever. In particular, it is a Tesla Model X pulling a Quantas Boeing 787. There are a million reasons this is cool, but I think we should just jump to the coolest ones: the physics questions. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner has a maximum takeoff weight of 254,000 kg--but this one was empty and had a mass of 130,000 kg. In fact, a human could even pull a full-sized aircraft.