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Formula One Car's Momentum

  1. Oct 15, 2014 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Why are formula one cars(except the place where the driver sits) designed to break apart into small pieces very fast?
    I believe that there is all kinds of things as aerodynamics, but my assignment talks about how the breaking apart mechanism is a safety feature
    2. Relevant Equations
    ∆p = F∆t


    3. The attempt at a solution
    I believe what it's doing is that it is increasing the impulse by increasing the time it takes for the car to travel a certain distance. I do not know how. I speculated by maybe using Newton's Third Law, but that is not right.

    How can breaking apart into smaller pieces increase impulse?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 15, 2014 #2

    RUber

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    When a piece breaks off, instead of transferring the force into the rest of the car or into the driver, the force leaves the body of the car.
     
  4. Oct 15, 2014 #3

    BiGyElLoWhAt

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    What do you mean, increase impulse?
     
  5. Oct 15, 2014 #4
    Impulse is change in momentum.

    It increases impulse because of how it increases the time.
    I wrote that before, but my physics teacher says that the answer has to do with the time.
     
  6. Oct 15, 2014 #5

    BiGyElLoWhAt

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    I know what an impulse is, but your statement about the impulse increasing didn't make sense to me.
    Do you know the integral definition of impulse?
    Also, you don't want the impulse to increase...
     
  7. Oct 15, 2014 #6
    Product of force acting on the body and the time interval.

    I believe that you want the time in the equation to increase, right? For example, when you cradle a ball, you receive the same amount of force.

    That force is just in smaller amounts due to the time.
     
  8. Oct 15, 2014 #7

    BiGyElLoWhAt

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    ##I = \int Fdt##
    Which is ##Ft## for constant force.
    What's actually happening when a formula 1 car crashes?
     
  9. Oct 15, 2014 #8
    Sorry, but I haven't been studying that equation.

    The equation that I learned is ∆p = F∆t

    When Formula one car crashes, they break into many pieces. More than a normal car going that high speed.

    This is apparently a design feature for the drivers inside the Formula 1 cars. Although the car breaks apart a lot, the driver tends to be alive.

    Using momentum and impulse, I'm supposed to describe how breaking apart into smaller pieces help the driver.
     
  10. Oct 15, 2014 #9

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    The impulse equation shows that you get the same change in momentum with a smaller force applied over a longer time. Search for "crumple zone car crash" (without the quotes) to learn more about how to minimize the forces on vehicle occupants during crashes.

    I don't understand the "parts fall off" part of the statement by your instructor, though. Crumple zones do not work by having parts fall off of vehicles.
     
  11. Oct 15, 2014 #10
    What my instructor was saying that the because the formula one cars break off more easily, they make it more safe for the driver somehow.

    For example, if a person was in a vehicle and parts of it start to fall off, how would that increase the change in time?
     
  12. Oct 15, 2014 #11

    berkeman

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    It wouldn't. I call BS on your instructor, or you are misunderstanding what your instructor is saying.

    If it helped to reduce injury, then all production cars would come with body panels equiped with explosive bolts to blow off excess mass in an accident. Deploy the airbags and blow off the body panels. Right.

    Tell your instructor that I call BS, and want him/her to discuss in class how crumple zones in vehicles save lives, and explosive body panel bolts do not. Let us know what s/he says... :-)
     
  13. Oct 16, 2014 #12

    olivermsun

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    I think his instructor probably has the correct idea. The expendable parts of Formula One car bodies aren't made of crumple-able material, but they are made of stuff that can shatter into a million pieces. If done correctly, the shattering will absorb quite a lot of the excess kinetic energy in the event of a crash.
     
  14. Oct 16, 2014 #13

    berkeman

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    I suppose it's possible, but I'm having a hard time seeing why. The protective cage around the driver is probably designed with crumple zones in mind, though.
     
  15. Oct 16, 2014 #14

    rcgldr

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    Part of the reason Formula 1 cars break up into pieces because the components that break are designed to be just strong enough to deal with the normal stresses on the car, not to deal with the stresses from impacts, in order to save weight. Even minor contact, such as another cars tire contacting a front wing component will often shear off the front wing component, and sometimes the contacting tire gets cut and goes flat.

    The main component in driver safety in the cars is a combination of a very solid and padded cage (sort of like a helmet for the driver's body) that surrounds the drivers body, legs, and sides of the helmet, surrounded by components that collapse instead of shearing off. A few years ago, the rules were changed to not allow the drivers feet to extend beyond the front axle, effectively increasing the size of the crumple zone. The parts that crumple - collapse reduced the peak g force involved in a collision by having a lower rate of acceleration (deceleration) over a longer period of time. The impulse - change in momentum is the same, but the time is longer so the peak forces are smaller.

    For some components that do shear off, like an entire wheel assembly, there is a safety factor in that the wheel assembly can shear off without bringing the entire car to a complete stop. The tradeoff here is that the sheared off components could hit other drivers (or rarely spectators).
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2014
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