I should have listened more in science class…

We get into some strange conversations at work. Today was science class:

How come, if you jump when you’re on a train, you land in the same spot? Why do you keep pace with the train when you’re in the air? The answer probably involves the words ‘velocity’, ‘inertia’ and ‘Newtonian Physics’, if that helps.

A spaceship is travelling at the speed of light. Nothing can exceed the speed of light. What if there’s a lightbulb inside the spaceship? Would it work? This one probably involves ‘infinite mass’, ‘simutaneously occupying every point in the universe’ and ‘quantum’.

I realise I could look up the answers on the Internet. Heck, I realise I should have listened more in science class. See, all those equations and numbers and random Greek letters shut down my brain. I find the big issues of science fascinating, but the squiggles? Less so. Kind of like how I love reading but grammar happens to other people…

I suspect posts like this explain why I won’t be getting any cards tomorrow.


3 thoughts on “I should have listened more in science class…

  1. drsedgley

    Ah, a science question. I like.
    Now, a train moving at 100mph (do they ever get that fast?) is moving everything in it at 100mph, including air, passengers etc.
    We know that if we were on a skateboard (lets just imagine) – moving even at slow speeds – and jumped directly upwards, we’d land on the floor and the skateboard would continue off into the distance, comedy style-ee.
    Why does this happen? As you remove yourself from the source of your propulsion you maintain some forward motion (due to inertia). However, you are slowed by the air resistance, assuming the wind is not blowing in the same direction and at the same speed you were moving in. If it were, a vertical jump would result in you landing back on the skateboard. If the wind doesn’t match your previous direction and velocity, you will fall behind the board.
    However, in a train, you are in a sealed box and all things are moving at equal speed. There’s no wind. So, if you jump vertically upwards, you will travel upwards as far as your legs will allow, and CONTINUE to travel at 100mph in whatever direction the train was going in.
    The only things that will alter the landing position are:
    1) Acceleration – you will land behind your jumping position
    2) Deceleration (including crashes!) – you will land ahead of your jumping position
    (this is because you will still be moving at 100mph, so your speed will be momentarily independent of the train speed.)
    3) Cornering – you will land away from the side to which the train is turning.
    For further information on the subject, check with Albert “Bob” Einstein and his theory of relativity, which is what all this relates (ha!) to.

    1. matthewhyde Post author

      Re: Trains
      Thanks – we figured it would be something like that, I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that the forces still acted on the jumped when they were out of contact with the floor of the train. But it’s all down to Newton’s first law. Or something.
      This week we abandoned science and just superimposed our heads on pictures of Transformers.

  2. drsedgley

    But I can’t do quantum.
    Whenever anyone says “nothing can exceed the speed of light” I always want to say “why not?”
    I don’t really think I want to know the answer.


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