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Sun energy transfer into a mousetrap car spring

  1. Mar 6, 2007 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    In six steps, explain how energy was transferred from the sun to your moving mousetrap car.

    2. Relevant equations
    None, I think.

    3. The attempt at a solution
    For the most part, I don't have the slightest idea. I do know how the energy transfers to the spring and powers the car, I just don't how the energy got into the spring. Would I be on the right track to say that the steps are...
    1. Plants absorb the sun's energy through photosynthesis.
    2. An animal eats the plant and gains energy.
    3. I eat the animal, thus gaining that energy.
    4. I set the trap, transferring potential energy to the spring.
    5. The trap is tripped, transferring kinetic energy to the kill bar.
    6. The kill bar turns the axle, transferring kinetic energy to the wheels.
    What do you guys think? Also, anyone have any links to useful articles/websites where I can do some reading. I've been searching on google but haven't really found anything. Does anyone have anything that can help? This is for a level 1 concepts of physics class. I don't need anything to crazy. The basics will be perfect.

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 6, 2007 #2


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    Science Advisor

    Cute- I think you have summarized it- although you can also get energy directly from plants. You could shorten the cycle by becoming a vegetarian!
  4. Mar 6, 2007 #3
    Good deal. Would I be correct to say that energy from the sun energy is light energy and the energy in steps 2 and 3 is chemical energy?
  5. Mar 6, 2007 #4
    Light is converted to chemical energy by first splitting water and then using the stored energy in the form of ATP to synthesize carbohydrates. These could then be fermented to various alcohol/biodiesel fuels. Then You need to transport said fuel to car owner's nearby pumping station. Then you spend $$ on pumping, overhead, and taxes to get fuel into gas tank. Now I'm not mechanially minded, but i assume you have a cam driven mouse bar slamming down on a big cog or you buy step 7.
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