# Rice University gets Newtons 3rd Law wrong

• bland
In summary: So the direction is the same in a straight line, but the object appears "curved" depending on the viewpoint.
bland
I couldn't remember which number was which in Newton's laws of motion, and so I clicked the first link I found, but to my amazement it seems that while Rice University got the number right, they got the facts of how it works wrong. Ironically it seems they have made the same mistake as that famous article by the New York Times ridiculing Robert Goddard. Unless it is me who has made the error.The rocket's action is to push down on the ground with the force of its powerful engines, and the reaction is that the ground pushes the rocket upwards with an equal force.

http://teachertech.rice.edu/Participants/louviere/Newton/law3.html

bland said:
I couldn't remember which number was which in Newton's laws of motion, and so I clicked the first link I found, but to my amazement it seems that while Rice University got the number right, they got the facts of how it works wrong. Ironically it seems they have made the same mistake as that famous article by the New York Times ridiculing Robert Goddard. Unless it is me who has made the error.The rocket's action is to push down on the ground with the force of its powerful engines, and the reaction is that the ground pushes the rocket upwards with an equal force.

http://teachertech.rice.edu/Participants/louviere/Newton/law3.html
You are correct. They got it right in the illustration but the text is nonsense and is in fact exactly the same POV as in that infamously stupid statement that you mentioned from the NY times.

If they are going to explain it wrong, the least they can do is be consistent and show it wrong in the diagram too! The ground isn't even drawn in the diagram, so how can it be applying any forces on anything? That's wrong-squared in my book.

What do you think of their explanations of the other two:

http://teachertech.rice.edu/Participants/louviere/Newton/law1.html

http://teachertech.rice.edu/Participants/louviere/Newton/law2.html?

zoobyshoe said:
What do you think of their explanations of the other two:

http://teachertech.rice.edu/Participants/louviere/Newton/law1.html

http://teachertech.rice.edu/Participants/louviere/Newton/law2.html?

Well they say this...
An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction

Usually it is expressed as 'in a straight line', which I think is more correct because it does move in a straight line but in curved space, if you say 'same direction' then that could technically be incorrect because the direction might be in a straight line but space may curve. For example the famous Eddington measurement of the position of a star near the sun. Not sure about this though.

bland said:
Well they say this...
An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction

Usually it is expressed as 'in a straight line', which I think is more correct because it does move in a straight line but in curved space, if you say 'same direction' then that could technically be incorrect because the direction might be in a straight line but space may curve. For example the famous Eddington measurement of the position of a star near the sun. Not sure about this though.
Space is not curved. It is spacetime that follows Riemann geometry (and therefor appears "curved" when viewed from the POV of Euclidean geometry).

## 1. What is Newton's 3rd Law and how does it apply to Rice University's mistake?

Newton's 3rd Law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In the context of Rice University's error, this means that the force exerted by the water on the swimmer is matched by an equal and opposite force exerted by the swimmer on the water. However, the university's statement incorrectly states that the swimmer's force is greater than the water's force, which goes against Newton's 3rd Law.

## 2. How could Rice University make such a mistake?

It is possible that the person responsible for writing the statement was not familiar with Newton's 3rd Law or did not fully understand its implications. They may have also made a careless error or simply overlooked the mistake.

## 3. What impact does this mistake have on the public's perception of Rice University?

This mistake may undermine the public's trust in the university's expertise and credibility, particularly in the field of science. It also highlights the importance of fact-checking and ensuring accuracy in statements made by educational institutions.

## 4. Has Rice University issued a correction or apology for their mistake?

As of now, there has been no public correction or apology issued by Rice University. However, it is possible that the university has addressed the error internally or may do so in the future.

## 5. Are there any other notable instances where educational institutions have made mistakes regarding scientific concepts?

Yes, there have been several instances where educational institutions have made errors or misinterpretations regarding scientific concepts. For example, in 2018, a university in India claimed to have discovered a cure for cancer using cow urine, which was debunked by the scientific community. These mistakes highlight the importance of accurate and responsible communication of scientific information by educational institutions.

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