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Gravitational potential energy challenge

  1. Feb 8, 2008 #1
    ok im in high school and have a physics challenge, its a device that transports a mass of 305 grams (Tomato soup can), a distance of 4 meters. no chemical, elastic, spring, electrical or magnetic energy can be used - the only energy source for propelling the device will come from the gravitational potential energy of the soup can. the soup can can be located no higher than 20 cm above the device itself and it will fall down on the device and we are to come up with some form of mechanism to propel the device once the can falls on it. other restrictions are -
    1. device has max dimensions of 30cm X 30cm X 30cm
    2. nothing falls off the device. if a part detaches and falls on the ground the distance traveled will be measured from starting point to the part.
    3. once the device starts to move, it will be self guided and must travel in a straight line. the course is 1 meter wide and if it goes off course, the distance traveled will be from the starting point to where it first went off course.
    4. once the can falls, it must not go lower or into the device. so basically it falls and lands on top of device but doesnt go through it to the ground.
    so... if you have any ideas, please post them. thank you!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 8, 2008 #2
    Make a ramp and let the can roll down the ramp and hope it goes as far as you need it too :D
     
  4. Feb 8, 2008 #3
    if i didnt need ideas for this project this urgently, i would have found riogho's comment funny :(
     
  5. Feb 8, 2008 #4
    Why, does it not work? I can't think of any other way, maybe it is as a trick question and you are just making it harder then it needs to be :D
     
  6. Feb 8, 2008 #5

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    I don't get the "falls down onto" part. That is too uncontrolled. Can you instead have a platform as part of your shuttle cart that the can sits on, which starts 20cm high, and moves smoothly down the 20cm as that potential energy is changed into KE for the cart moving forward?

    If so, use a string wrapped around one of the axles to translate the downward can motion into rotational torque, and leave the end of the string loose, so it lets go of the axle when the can makes it to the bottom of its travel... from then on it's up to the friction in your wheels and axles as to weather you make the 4m distance goal.
     
  7. Feb 8, 2008 #6

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    From my read of the OP, he needs to have the can "fall" onto a platform thing, and that platform thing has to carry the can the 4m distance.
     
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