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Playing tug of war in space, who wins

  1. Apr 12, 2013 #1
    what would happen if I played a game of tug in space? I'm considering the gravity to be zero and the mass of the rope is negligible and there is no friction. My mass is larger but the force with which i'm pulling is less than that of my lighter yet stronger opponent.

    I'm envisioning that we both move towards the center and no one wins, or is the person with the larger mass always going to win. I cant quite wrap my mind around all the possible scenarios.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 12, 2013 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    The person with the larger mass always wins. The force is irrelevant.
  4. Apr 12, 2013 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Newton's third law says that the force with which you are pulling your opponent must be the same as the force with which he is pulling you.

    There is a center of mass that is between you. Its distance from each of you is proportional to your mass ratio. If you each start at rest and pull on each other via a massless rope or similar arrangement, you will both wind up at that point simultaneously. No amount of pushing, pulling, kicking, wiggling or flapping of arms can change that.
  5. Apr 18, 2013 #4
    If you consider winning as who is moved the least by their opponent, then the player with the greatest mass wins.

    However if you consider winning- who reaches the centre of the rope first, it's possible the lighter player could win if he had a high pulling power to mass ratio.
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