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Fly in a car

  1. Apr 17, 2005 #1
    You are driving a car. A fly is along for the ride (in the car). The fly is not hanging on to anything. Not the window, not the seat. It is flying. If you drive your car fast, faster than the fly to catch up, will the fly hit the back window? Why?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 17, 2005 #2


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    :No. The fly is perched on the *air* - which is accelerated with the car.:
  4. Apr 17, 2005 #3
    If the air is "accelerated", why won't you feel the "wind" when you are driving in the car?
  5. Apr 17, 2005 #4
    Because you are accelerated too.
  6. Apr 17, 2005 #5
    The fly will hit the backwindow if your acceleration is high enough.
  7. Apr 17, 2005 #6

    Wouldn't this depend on whether the windows were open or not? Also, what about inertia?
  8. Apr 17, 2005 #7
    If the density of the fly is greater than that of the air then he will be moved towards the back window. A helium balloon would move forward in an accellerating car because its density is less than that of the air in the car. My guess is that a fly is denser than air.

    What I'm really curious about is how Dave made a post with less than 10 characters?
  9. Apr 17, 2005 #8
    He posted white text to hide his answer. Select to see.
  10. Apr 17, 2005 #9
    Oh, very clever. I see limitless possibilities in this! :devil:
  11. Apr 18, 2005 #10
    so the acceleration is simmilar like the one due to gravity isn't it. but if the fly doen't being pull to gravity (acting as same density as air even tough if it don't) would it also smashed to the rear window. i agree with the helium after all
  12. Apr 18, 2005 #11
    Well, what if it all happen in vacuum? Will the fly smash the rear window? (Assume that you and the fly survive without oxygen)
  13. Apr 18, 2005 #12
    The fly will won't be able to fly.
  14. Apr 18, 2005 #13


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    The air has very little inertia. It is very easy to accelerate it along with the car. You feel nothing. It *does* have *some* inertia, which is why the helium balloon gets pushed forward as the air gets pushed back.


    That would be a factor, yes.

    Yes, but with so little inertia, the fly is affected more by air resistance. Think of dropping a (non-flying) fly off a roof. It is much mroe affected by air resistance than it is by its own mass. Same thing happens in the car under acceleration.

    I take no credit. As you peruse this forum, you will see that it is the standard way of providing an answer.

    Ahah! That's clever! But if it were to hop, or use a rocket pack, then yes it would smash into the back window - just as a feather drops like a stone in a vacuum.
  15. May 14, 2005 #14
    In a vacuum, wouldn't the fly hit the back window very easily? There is no air to keep the fly accelerated... nothing pushing the fly forward. And as mentioned, it can't use it's wings to propel itself forward, just like we can't use our arms to do that in a vacuum.

    What about with gravity? Does that mean the fly starts on the floor and most likely would not hit the window because it wouldn't get off the floor?
  16. May 17, 2005 #15


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    That *would* be the case if not for...
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