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Pushing a stick thought experiment

  1. Jul 21, 2012 #1
    "Pushing a stick" thought experiment

    Hello, I'm new here and I wanted to ask a question that has been bugging me for a while. I did a quick search in the forum but frankly not sure what to search for.

    Imagine you have a long stick that stretches from the earth to the sun. If I push on one end of the stick how long will it take for the other end to move?

    So more specifically, if the atoms at the end of my finger are pushing on the atoms at one end of the stick and there is lots of space between the atoms, then something is transmitting the pushing action between the atoms. Since nothing travels faster than the speed of light it should take approx 8 min for the other end of the stick to move. If the other end of the stick moves instantaneously then is there something that does travel faster than the speed of light?

    tnx
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2012 #2

    Doc Al

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  4. Jul 21, 2012 #3
    Re: "Pushing a stick" thought experiment

    thank you...much longer than 8min
     
  5. Jul 21, 2012 #4

    phinds

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    Re: "Pushing a stick" thought experiment

    Yes, sounds goes about 700 mph, so it would take about 15 years
     
  6. Jul 21, 2012 #5
    Re: "Pushing a stick" thought experiment

    In air. In the stick it will be much faster.
     
  7. Jul 21, 2012 #6

    phinds

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    Re: "Pushing a stick" thought experiment


    DOH !


    It's early. My brain is not connected yet. I should keep my mouth shut. Forget I said anything. I'm not even here.
     
  8. Jul 21, 2012 #7

    HallsofIvy

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    Re: "Pushing a stick" thought experiment

    Coffee! Drink lots of Coffee!

    (I once had a student stop me as I was leaving my office to get my morning coffee. After going over her work for a time (I thought I was being very nice and polite) she said "Please go get your coffee. I can wait."!)
     
  9. Jul 21, 2012 #8
    Re: "Pushing a stick" thought experiment

    If the stick were made of air it would actually take longer than 15 years for the stick to move. But sticks are not made of air as far as I know.

    I have not had coffee. So I am going back to sleep.
     
  10. Jul 21, 2012 #9

    Doc Al

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    Re: "Pushing a stick" thought experiment

    Brewing a second pot right now!
     
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