# Maximum acceleration.

mprm86
Which is the maximum acceleration that a body (like a person or a car) can reach in the ground, and without using any extern help?

## Answers and Replies

Maxos
The question is not clear at all.

What do you mean by "external" (e.g. Gravity is external)

mprm86
Sorry, the question wasnt clear at all. I will be more specific: Is there a limit of the acceleration a car can reach using only its engine (that is, in a flat track for example)? My answer would be yes, the maximum acceleration that a car can reach in such conditions is g (gravitational acceleration) because the only force acting on it is the one due to the friction with the ground, and the latter depends on the normal force and the friction coefficient, but i´m not quite sure I am right.
Thanks.

Science Advisor
mprm86 said:
Sorry, the question wasnt clear at all. I will be more specific: Is there a limit of the acceleration a car can reach using only its engine (that is, in a flat track for example)? My answer would be yes, the maximum acceleration that a car can reach in such conditions is g (gravitational acceleration) because the only force acting on it is the one due to the friction with the ground, and the latter depends on the normal force and the friction coefficient, but i´m not quite sure I am right.
Thanks.

Yeah, it's roughly g unless you hit something . It can be a lot more with special tires or aerodynamic help.

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
mprm86 said:
Sorry, the question wasnt clear at all. I will be more specific: Is there a limit of the acceleration a car can reach using only its engine (that is, in a flat track for example)?
Thanks.

Are rocket-cars considered to be "cheating"? They wouldn't have any limit on acceleration due to the coefficient of friction.

Gold Member
Stingray said:
Yeah, it's roughly g unless you hit something . It can be a lot more with special tires or aerodynamic help.
You perplex me, Stingray. I thought that you were a professional racer. Don't try to tell me that a digger running 4 second quarters is accelerating at 1g max. My Roadrunner was a bloody joke on the street racing scene, and I pulled at least .7g going into 2nd gear. Off the line was probably less, but it was at least .5g, as can be attested to by my friend who got sacked by a can of juice that was on the dashboard when I lit up.
Without aerodynamic aid your downforce is limited to 1g, but not your acceleration. That's purely a function of horsepower and traction. And as pervect pointed out, that only applies if you're relying upon engine-driven wheels as your motive influence. I've seen a car with a J-34 turbojet run the quarter in slightly less than 3 seconds from a dead-start. Try to tell me that it pulled less than 1.1g.

Last edited:
Science Advisor
Danger said:
You perplex me, Stingray. I thought that you were a professional racer. Don't try to tell me that a digger running 4 second quarters is accelerating at 1g max. My Roadrunner was a bloody joke on the street racing scene, and I pulled at least .7g going into 2nd gear. Off the line was probably less, but it was at least .5g, as can be attested to by my friend who got sacked by a can of juice that was on the dashboard when I lit up.
Without aerodynamic aid your downforce is limited to 1g, but not your acceleration. That's purely a function of horsepower and traction. And as pervect pointed out, that only applies if you're relying upon engine-driven wheels as your motive influence. I've seen a car with a J-34 turbojet run the quarter in slightly less than 3 seconds from a dead-start. Try to tell me that it pulled less than 1.1g.

No, I'm not a professional racer. It's just a hobby. I don't have anywhere near the skill to be paid for it.

Of course a jet or rocket-powered car can accelerate much faster than 1 g. I interpreted the original question to mean a car being accelerated only through its tires. Is that correct, mprm86?

And you're right that dragsters do run much faster than 1 g. But they have the aforementioned special tires and wings. Street legal tires max out around 1 g, and that would only be for an AWD car. You say that acceleration depends on "power and traction," and that's basically true. I'm talking about available traction.

Gold Member
Stingray said:
No, I'm not a professional racer. It's just a hobby. I don't have anywhere near the skill to be paid for it.
As long as they don't offer to pay you to not do it, you're okay.

Stingray said:
Of course a jet or rocket-powered car can accelerate much faster than 1 g. I interpreted the original question to mean a car being accelerated only through its tires.
A reasonable assumption.

Stingray said:
And you're right that dragsters do run much faster than 1 g. But they have the aforementioned special tires and wings. Street legal tires max out around 1 g, and that would only be for an AWD car. You say that acceleration depends on "power and traction," and that's basically true. I'm talking about available traction.
Ahhh... Well then, we're on the same boat. (But I still disagree about the brake thing. :tongue:)

Mk
mprm86 said:
Sorry, the question wasnt clear at all. I will be more specific: Is there a limit of the acceleration a car can reach using only its engine (that is, in a flat track for example)? My answer would be yes, the maximum acceleration that a car can reach in such conditions is g (gravitational acceleration) because the only force acting on it is the one due to the friction with the ground, and the latter depends on the normal force and the friction coefficient, but i´m not quite sure I am right.
Thanks.
So the verdict is: No, there is no maximum speed.

Gold Member
"I've seen a car with a J-34 turbojet run the quarter in slightly less than 3 seconds from a dead-start."

Holy cr*p.

memarf1
Yes, there is a maximum acceleration

You all have forgotten your first physics class ever. Although friction plays a large role in acceleration, it plays virtually no role in maximum speed with a mechanical engine. Now, I say virtually because Special Relitivity states that the maximum speed you can attain is the speed of light or c. c is the maximum b/c of the resistance and/or friction that the threading of space-time itself plays. Therefore, with a mechanical engine, friction plays virtually no role in the maximum speed of your vehicle. This is b/c you can build your car thin enough and aerodynamic enough to overcome everything that places friction into the equation except space-time.

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
memarf1 said:
You all have forgotten your first physics class ever. Although friction plays a large role in acceleration, it plays virtually no role in maximum speed with a mechanical engine. Now, I say virtually because Special Relitivity states that the maximum speed you can attain is the speed of light or c. c is the maximum b/c of the resistance and/or friction that the threading of space-time itself plays.

Looks like flame-bait to me, or are you serious?

Well, let's assume you are serious (and if it's flamebait, you wouldn't admit it, would you? I didn't think so).

I've forgotten my first physics class - really. Not sure what it was, exactly. But I'm pretty sure it wasn't about relativity. Probably some of the younger posters still remember theirs, though, so it's highly unlikely we've all forgotten our first physics class.

Special relativity does state that the maximum speed you can obtain is 'c'.

This has nothing to do with resistance or friction of space-time (which does not exist), nor anything to do with "threading" of space-time (which doesn't even make sense - it's "not even wrong").

It also has nothing whatsoever to do with maximum acceleration, and definitely nothing whatsoever to do with the original poster's question.

Gold Member
DaveC426913 said:
Holy cr*p.
My favourite from a perspective of design genius, even though it's a lot slower, is Les Shockley's "Shockwave". It's a (Kenny? Peterbilt?) semi tractor with 3 J-34's. That son of a ***** weighs 3 or 4 tonnes and blows through the traps in less than 14 seconds. Given the thrust-to-horsepower equivalence at sea level and under 500 kph, he's pushing about 30,000 hp. The 'burner pops' that he lights off while staging can deafen you at 100 meters.

Homework Helper
mprm86 said:
Sorry, the question wasnt clear at all. I will be more specific: Is there a limit of the acceleration a car can reach using only its engine (that is, in a flat track for example)? My answer would be yes, the maximum acceleration that a car can reach in such conditions is g (gravitational acceleration) because the only force acting on it is the one due to the friction with the ground, and the latter depends on the normal force and the friction coefficient, but i´m not quite sure I am right.
Thanks.

Coefficients of friction can be greater than 1. Top Fuel Dragsters pull about 4 g's at launch. Good table tennis rubber has a coefficient of friction around 7 or so, but is too soft to be used as a tire.

Fastest land based acceleration is a rocket sled. 0 to 6400mph in about 6 seconds. In this case, a 4 stage rocket was used, the last stage pulling about 157g's. Here's a link, click on the picture to see the video.

http://www.46tg.af.mil/world_record.htm [Broken]

Cool pic of a smaller rocket sled at 4800ft/sec.

http://www.meggaflash.com/rocket%20photographed%20using%20PF310%20flashbulbs.htm [Broken]

Last edited by a moderator:
Gold Member
Jeff Reid said:
Here's a link, click on the picture to see the video.
Well... that was impressive! The bloody thing did it's whole schtick in about a tenth of the time that it took to load the file.

Jeff Reid said:
Cool pic of a smaller rocket sled at 4800ft/sec.
That one just makes me think of the little dude in Mad Magazine's 'Spy vs. Spy' cartoons.

memarf1
Pervect, I really do not know why you would accuse me of flaming or baiting flaming, however, yes there is such a thing as threading of space and time. Although you may have heard it called something else, suck as the fabric of space. This is learned much when being taught about Einstein's Gravitational Theories. You must still be in Classical physics to not understand these theories.

Secondly, yes, in my first physics class ever I did learn a small bit of relativity, however now I am a Senior at Florida State as a physics major and know quite a lot more than I did before.

Third, to relate this back to the original question since you seem to have a hard time relating things of this nature back, friction on the tires, road, and even inside the engine all play a role in maximum speed and acceleration, however, with a MECHANICAL engine, mechanical being the key to this explanation, the only thing that limits max speed and acceleration are relativity. Einstein. Physics 101.

Now, please do not flame me again.

Science Advisor
memarf1 said:
Pervect, I really do not know why you would accuse me of flaming or baiting flaming, however, yes there is such a thing as threading of space and time. Although you may have heard it called something else, suck as the fabric of space. This is learned much when being taught about Einstein's Gravitational Theories. You must still be in Classical physics to not understand these theories.

Third, to relate this back to the original question since you seem to have a hard time relating things of this nature back, friction on the tires, road, and even inside the engine all play a role in maximum speed and acceleration, however, with a MECHANICAL engine, mechanical being the key to this explanation, the only thing that limits max speed and acceleration are relativity. Einstein. Physics 101.

Maybe I shouldn't speak for pervect, but he seems to know relativity quite well. And so do I. I've never heard of "threading of spacetime." "Resistance of spacetime" doesn't mean anything either, and in any case is irrelevant.

This thread is about acceleration, not velocity. Even if it were about speed, bringing up relativity is just ridiculous. There are so many issues with any remotely conventional design that would have to be solved long before getting to c. The original question was clearly asking about a car, and nothing going anywhere near c would resemble such a thing in any way.

Gold Member
Stingray said:
The original question was clearly asking about a car, and nothing going anywhere near c would resemble such a thing in any way.
Hey, now...! Let's not discount the RV from 'Spaceballs'. :grumpy:

There is no maximum acceleration. Acceleration is a = dv/dt, and can be made as arbitrarily large as we want by decreasing dt. Any technical limitations are the engineer's fault.

memarf1
Thank you Icebreaker, you are absolutely correct. Stingray, you must not know a whole lot about relativity considering you don't even know about the fabric of space. When I refer to the threading of space I am referring to the fabric which if you know anything about relativity you cannot deny that Einstein defined the fabric of space with his Gravitational Theory. I think you are arguing for classical physics not modern physics.

Also, the original question was not OBVIOUSLY for a normal car. The question was, is there a maximum speed or acceleration or does the friction of the road or air limit this. There are limits if you us differential equations but they will be located close to c. And Icebreaker is in fact correct for the actual equation, however if you were to take the limit, it should theoretically(as I have not done the calculation) be located close to c.

Last edited:
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
memarf1 said:
Pervect, I really do not know why you would accuse me of flaming or baiting flaming, however, yes there is such a thing as threading of space and time. Although you may have heard it called something else, suck as the fabric of space. This is learned much when being taught about Einstein's Gravitational Theories. You must still be in Classical physics to not understand these theories.

Oh, I happen to know a small amount about General Relativity. Enough to know that you are spouting nonsense, anyway.

Now, please do not flame me again.

LOL. I think you like being flamed - and will keep spouting nonsense as long as someone notices you. I will take your request under consideration.

Last edited:
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
If one moves away from cars, there are some interesting proposals to accelerate electrons at 10^25 g (1g = 9.8 m/s^2 = 1 Earth gravity). The method could potentially reach as high as 10^28 g, but no higher.

See for instance

http://www.phys.lsu.edu/mog/mog17/node8.html

10^28 g is about the average acceleration that a nucleon would have in the nucleus, if one could treat at nucleon as a classical particle, IIRC.

At an acceleration of 10^25 g, an electron reaches relativistic velocities in about 3 attoseconds (that's 3e8 m/s / 10^26 m/s^2).

Last edited:
Science Advisor
memarf1 said:
Stingray, you must not know a whole lot about relativity considering you don't even know about the fabric of space. When I refer to the threading of space I am referring to the fabric which if you know anything about relativity you cannot deny that Einstein defined the fabric of space with his Gravitational Theory. I think you are arguing for classical physics not modern physics.

Ok, Einstein "defined a fabric of space." The way you're using the words is meaningless, though. By the way, I'm working on a Ph.D. in general relativity. I think I know something about it.

Also, relativity is included in most peoples' definitions of classical physics. It is usually contrasted with quantum physics.

Also, the original question was not OBVIOUSLY for a normal car. The question was, is there a maximum speed or acceleration or does the friction of the road or air limit this. There are limits if you us differential equations but they will be located close to c. And Icebreaker is in fact correct for the actual equation, however if you were to take the limit, it should theoretically(as I have not done the calculation) be located close to c.

Actually it was obvious. It was an engineering question, and it was logical to give engineering answers.

Gold Member
memarf1 said:
Also, the original question was not OBVIOUSLY for a normal car. The question was, is there a maximum speed or acceleration or does the friction of the road or air limit this.
Sorry dude, but your memory fails you. The original question was:
Which is the maximum acceleration that a body (like a person or a car) can reach in the ground, and without using any extern help?
The initial misunderstanding between Stingray and myself was due to the physical attributes of the car itself, but we both can read well enough to know what the OP meant. We even managed to extrapolate that the OP's question referred to on the ground rather than in it. That would involve mining equipment, which isn't noted for its blinding acceleration. You could never get to 0.5% of light-speed and remain on the ground, no matter what tire composition, spoilers, and drag-reduction equipment you use.
And in regard to Icebreaker's post, there most certainly are limits upon any acceleration of a physical body even in free space.

Science Advisor
pervect said:
If one moves away from cars, there are some interesting proposals to accelerate electrons at 10^25 g (1g = 9.8 m/s^2 = 1 Earth gravity). The method could potential reach as high as 10^28 g, but no higher.

That's impressive. It's almost to the point where classical radiation reaction effects get really interesting (i.e. aren't understood).

Science Advisor
Danger said:
You could never get to 0.5% of light-speed and remain on the ground, no matter what tire composition, spoilers, and drag-reduction equipment you use.

Well, you could have upward-pointing rockets. Unfortunately, anyone inside the car would be reduced to goo no matter what.

Gold Member
Stingray said:
Well, you could have upward-pointing rockets. Unfortunately, anyone inside the car would be reduced to goo no matter what.
I can't help thinking that off-the-shelf suspension components might be inadequate. (Parts Man: "You want shocks that can take 200,000g? Man, I'm going to have to order that in. Call me next week.)

singularity -> infinite gravity -> infinite acceleration

memarf1
The original question was updated in the third response on this thread. It was not OBVIOUSLY for only cars.

Science Advisor
memarf1 said:
The original question was updated in the third response on this thread. It was not OBVIOUSLY for only cars.

The third response is where it was clarified that the question specifically referred to cars. The first post was ambiguous. To repeat (with added bolds):

mprm86 said:
Sorry, the question wasnt clear at all. I will be more specific: Is there a limit of the acceleration a car can reach using only its engine (that is, in a flat track for example)? My answer would be yes, the maximum acceleration that a car can reach in such conditions is g (gravitational acceleration) because the only force acting on it is the one due to the friction with the ground, and the latter depends on the normal force and the friction coefficient, but i´m not quite sure I am right.

Gold Member
Stingray said:
The third response is where it was clarified that the question specifically referred to cars.
Pervect was right; the guy's flame-baiting. Let's just ignore him.

memarf1
I don't even know what flame baiting is. The question although referring to a car, does not refer to a normal car, not only that, but he asks about limits. And, As I stated before, the only limits that a MECHANICAL engine would have, would be due to relativity. Normal cars reach more than one g right now. You should watch racing sometime. Well, Normal if you are speaking about a racecar, which I assume you are.

Gold Member
memarf1 said:
the only limits that a MECHANICAL engine would have, would be due to relativity.
So once you've made this engine out of neutronium so it won't explode at several million rpm... you're going to fuel it with antimatter to get that much mass reciprocating?

memarf1 said:
You should watch racing sometime.
We've not only watched it; we've done it. And apparently Stingray is still doing it.

And if you really don't know what flame-baiting is, just look back over your last couple of posts for examples thereof. It's aguing (usually impolitely) just for the sake of pissing people off even when you know that you're wrong in hopes that a war will start.

Mentor
nemarf1, your posts appear overly argumentative. Ie, like Danger said, long before Einstein even comes into the picture, Newton will tear the engine apart. That makes Relativity far from relevant here. The other posters here were simply trying to constrain the thread to the limits of physical reality.

So that's enough of the bickering, guys...

memarf1
Russ, by your definition Relitivity would never play a part. If we ever hope to travel at speeds close to the speed of light we will have to use mechanical engines which will not tear themselves apart. Not only that but in space we will have to find a way to eliminate the heat emmitted by the friction inside the engine or our ship will simply melt.

No, Relativity is the only limit we have to talk about here, if we can use a fusion powered engine as proposed above, for this super racecar.

Conventional means that we use today without using rocket engines are wind limited to answer the original question based on a normal racecar without being confrontational.

However, I still say that Relativity is the only limiting factor if you are asking about a super racecar powered by something we don't fully understand yet.