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Homework Help: Physics Project Ideas

  1. Jun 7, 2006 #1
    I'm in Grade 11 taking my first course ever in physics (physics 11 :P). My teacher recently assigned a project. For this project I basically have to analyze the motion of an object with regard to displacement, velocity, work, force, power and energy either generated or put into the object.

    So I have use the material I have used so far in class to do this project. My teacher has some suggestions like kicking a soccer ball, hammering a nail.

    I was thinking about showing how effective aerodynamics are in a car by comparing different velocities, times using my Xbox360 game - PGR3. I was going to show that good aerodynamics could make a less powerful car go faster than a more powerful car over a long straight distance. Problem is the two cars I was going to use in the game don't really help me prove that. The car with the more advanced aerodyanmics has more horsepower than the car that has less advanced aerodynamics, yet the less advanced car goes faster off the start. No idea why that is, maybe because it's a game?

    Anyway, I'm having problems with coming up with ideas and I would really appreciate any suggestions on what I can do for my physics project.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 7, 2006 #2
    well the teacher gave a pretty open-ended question, and I think the best way would be to try come up with a simpler example than your video game example. The game would be tough, because without examining every line of code, you do not know why type of rules of physics those cars follow, and it might differ from the real world. Any moving object that interacts with its surroundings applies to your problem.

    A good one is two billiard balls hitting eachother, that also takes into account what types of collisions (elastic and inelastic, Im not sure whether you talked about it yet). But the sky is the limit with a question like that, but remember to keep your example simple and your explination thurogh.
  4. Jun 8, 2006 #3
    How about studying a catapult ?
    You can learn projectile motion and how much energy is transferred from the potential energy stored in the rubber band of the catapult to the mechanical energy of the projectile .You can compare ranges and heights attained and how much they vary from formula predictions due to factors
    like windspeed and air resistance .
    I also agree with wishbone , try to keep it simple .
  5. Jun 8, 2006 #4
    looking at the aerodynamics of a car is a probably too difficult. Because you have to take into consideration all the acting forces on the car which for 11th grade is way too difficult. the catapult is an idea, but remember you have to use balistic mechanics, ie projectile motion. how about measuring the different velocities of a car down a slope, of different gradient? see how the work varies as the slope decreases or increase.
  6. Jun 8, 2006 #5
    What about studying the physics behind your favourite sport or superhero?? For example, Marvel comics states that Superman can jump tall buildings in a single leap.. so how much power would he need, how fast would he be leaving the ground, etc. You can do all of this using the concepts you have learned in Grade 11 and it is interesting.
  7. Jun 9, 2006 #6
    Well, Marvel also claims that Superman is faster than the speed of light.:rofl:
    Study that !!!
    Maybe Superman was a photon all the while !:approve:
  8. Jun 10, 2006 #7

    Well thanks for the ideas! Especially the superhero one, I started working on it today. Got a book called the Physics of Superheroes from my local book store which is a good reference.

    Basically I'm going to analyze some of Superman's powers (originally, before flying) and the tension in Spiderman's web.

    So for Superman I just finished calculating how fast he can go. The calculation was easy but finding out the basic information took a lot of research and still isn't 100% accurate. I know that he can travel faster than a speeding bullet and looked up the velocity of a bullet. Roughly, from two sources, a bullet of like an average rifle is about 900m/s. This can range though for like highpowered rifles etc.

    So then I had to figure out well, how fast can he go? After looking up some superman stuff I found out that apprently in an episode of Smallville that Clark ran from Kansas to Honduras in 5 seconds. After that I created a probable route from a random place in Kansas (Smallville is fictional :P) and a random place in Honduras (doesnt specify where). Then I did some measurements.

    Comes out that he travels 3 310 000m (3310km) in these 5 seconds (in the route I created), so 1,324,000m/s (4,766,499km/h). Then given the speed of light is 299,792,458m/s I am guessing that Superman (atleast as a teenager) cannot travel at the Speed of light. But I mean, even growing up a few years wouldn't improve his ability to run that fast. This is all lore though, I just did my best to find some actual facts and compare them.

    Now to do "more powerful than a locomotive." Then ofcourse over a building in a single bound.
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