Understanding MCAT Question Confusion: Energy and Force on Steep Hills

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In summary, a girl riding her bicycle up a steep hill can save energy by zigzagging rather than riding straight up. This strategy will require the same amount of energy but less force on the pedals due to the increased distance traveled. However, since friction is ignored and the system is conservative, the path taken does not affect the amount of energy expended in the end.
  • #1
mrlucky0
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1
A girl riding her bicycle up a steep hill decides to save energy by zigzagging rather than riding straight up. Ignoring friction, her strategy will:

A. require the same amount of energy but less force on the pedals
B.
C.
D.

I missed this question and when I saw the correct answer, I couldn't entirely understand why the the energy remains the same. Since dE = F*D, and she has more distance to travel (to the top of the hill) shouldn't energy increase?

Edit: I understand the force is decreased by the same factor distance increases, making energy the same. But what about the increased distance to bike up the hill? Though I think I may be reading too deeply into the question making it more difficult, I'm not satisfied with the MCAT answer. Perhaps someone could correct my reasoning.
 
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  • #2
Gravitational Potential Energy is independent of the path.
 
  • #3
mrlucky0 said:
Edit: I understand the force is decreased by the same factor distance increases, making energy the same. But what about the increased distance to bike up the hill? Though I think I may be reading too deeply into the question making it more difficult, I'm not satisfied with the MCAT answer. Perhaps someone could correct my reasoning.

Didn't you just answer your own question?

On a side note, since you're ignoring friction, a non-conservative force, your system is a conservative system. Thus, the path one takes has no bearing on how much energy is expended to get up there. You're simply dealing with an initial energy and a final energy; in this problems case, potential energies.
 
  • #4
Pengwuino said:
Didn't you just answer your own question?

On a side note, since you're ignoring friction, a non-conservative force, your system is a conservative system. Thus, the path one takes has no bearing on how much energy is expended to get up there. You're simply dealing with an initial energy and a final energy; in this problems case, potential energies.

Thanks, I've got it now. Somehow I completely overlooked the fact that, friction neglected, the system would be conservative. I mean, from a "practical" standpoint from which I based my thought process on when I encountered the question, it's just hard to believe any sane person would want to bike up a hill like that, believing they could conserve energy.
 

Related to Understanding MCAT Question Confusion: Energy and Force on Steep Hills

1. What is MCAT Question Confusion?

MCAT Question Confusion is a common phenomenon experienced by students studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). It refers to the feeling of uncertainty or confusion when trying to understand and answer MCAT questions.

2. Why do students experience MCAT Question Confusion?

MCAT questions are designed to be challenging and require critical thinking skills. They often present complex scenarios and require the application of multiple concepts. This can lead to confusion and uncertainty, especially for students who are not familiar with the test format or have not prepared adequately.

3. How can I overcome MCAT Question Confusion?

The best way to overcome MCAT Question Confusion is through thorough preparation and practice. Familiarize yourself with the test format and types of questions that will be asked. Practice solving MCAT questions under timed conditions to improve your speed and accuracy. Additionally, seek help from a tutor or study group if you are struggling with specific concepts.

4. Is MCAT Question Confusion a sign of weakness?

No, MCAT Question Confusion is a normal part of the studying process. It is an indication that you are challenging yourself and working towards understanding complex concepts. It is important to not get discouraged and keep practicing to improve your skills.

5. How can I prevent MCAT Question Confusion on test day?

To prevent MCAT Question Confusion on test day, make sure you are well-rested and have a good understanding of the test format and content. Take deep breaths and read each question carefully, underlining important information and keywords. If you encounter a particularly challenging question, move on and come back to it later if you have time.

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