What Happens When a Rod Is Pushed Beyond Its Signal Propagation Speed?

In summary, the conversation discusses the speed of a signal traveling through a rod and the potential consequences of pushing the rod at a high energy. The limiting factor is the speed of sound in the rod and if an impulse is imparted faster than this speed, it will create a shock wave that dissipates over distance and time. The conversation also mentions that if the rod is conductive, the speed of electrical propagation is much faster than the speed of sound.
  • #1
Zhivago
26
1
Hello everyone, this is my first thread :)

It all started from the perfectly rigid rod connected from Earth to the moon and how fast the signal would get there if I pushed it. I understand the signal can't get there instantaneously because the inner structure of the atoms of the rod has a propagating limit.

But what happens if I push a rod (can be a regular sized one) with an energy high enough to give the first atoms in one end of the rod a speed greater then the propagating speed in the rod?
My answer would be: the rod would want to deform itself, or the energy would be converted to heat / radiation.
But I'm not quite sure of any of these... What do you think?
 
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  • #2
The limiting factor is the speed of sound in the rod. If you impart an impulse faster than the rods speed of sound, it's similar to the air. The result is a shock wave that travels at the speed of sound, which dissipates into a normal sound wave over distance and time, although I'm not sure of the rate of disspation, espeically in the case of a very long rod.

A bit off topic, but in the air, shock waves sould like a crack, not a boom. You have to be far enough away from the source of the shock wave for it to dissipate and turn into a normal sound wave in order to hear the boom.

Assuming the rod is conductive, the speed of electrical propagtion is much faster than the speed of sound in a rod.
 
  • #3


Hello and welcome to the forum! It's great to have you here.

In response to your question, the propagation of a signal in a rod is a complex process that involves the transfer of energy and information through the material. It is true that the signal cannot travel instantaneously due to the limitations of the inner structure of the atoms in the rod.

If you were to push the rod with a high enough energy to exceed the propagating speed in the rod, there are a few possible outcomes. One possibility is that the rod would indeed deform itself in an attempt to accommodate the energy and movement of the atoms at the end being pushed. This could result in the rod bending or even breaking if the force is strong enough.

Another possibility is that the excess energy would be converted into heat or radiation, as you mentioned. This is because when atoms are pushed beyond their normal speed, they can release energy in the form of heat or radiation as a way to balance out the excess energy.

It's also important to consider the properties of the material the rod is made of. For example, a metal rod may be more rigid and able to withstand higher forces, while a plastic rod may deform more easily.

Overall, it's difficult to say exactly what would happen without knowing more specific details about the rod and the force being applied. But it's safe to say that the rod would likely experience some kind of deformation or energy conversion if pushed with enough force to exceed the propagating speed. I hope this helps answer your question!
 

Related to What Happens When a Rod Is Pushed Beyond Its Signal Propagation Speed?

1. How does signal propagation occur in a rod?

Signal propagation in a rod is a process by which an electrical or chemical signal travels through the length of a rod. This phenomenon is mainly due to the movement of charged ions or molecules along the rod's membrane. These charged particles create an electrical current, which propagates the signal along the rod.

2. What factors affect the speed of signal propagation in a rod?

Several factors can affect the speed of signal propagation in a rod, including the diameter of the rod, the concentration of ions or molecules, and the amount of myelin sheath covering the rod. Generally, the larger the diameter and the higher the concentration of ions, the faster the signal will travel. The presence of myelin sheath also increases the speed of signal propagation by insulating the rod and preventing the signal from leaking out.

3. How does the structure of a rod contribute to signal propagation?

The structure of a rod plays a crucial role in signal propagation. The rod is made up of a cell body, dendrites, axon, and axon terminals. The dendrites receive signals from neighboring cells and transfer them to the cell body. The axon is responsible for transmitting the signal from the cell body to the axon terminals, where it is then passed on to the next cell. This structure allows for efficient and rapid signal propagation along the length of the rod.

4. What is the difference between unmyelinated and myelinated rods in terms of signal propagation?

Unmyelinated rods have no myelin sheath covering their axons, while myelinated rods have a fatty layer of myelin surrounding their axons. This myelin sheath acts as an insulator, allowing for faster signal propagation in myelinated rods. In contrast, unmyelinated rods have a slower propagation speed due to the absence of myelin sheath and a smaller diameter, resulting in a weaker electrical signal.

5. How does the propagation of an action potential differ from other types of signals in a rod?

Action potential is an all-or-nothing response in a rod, meaning that the strength of the signal is not affected by the intensity of the stimulus. In contrast, other types of signals in a rod, such as graded potentials, are proportional to the strength of the stimulus. Additionally, action potentials are self-regenerating and can travel long distances along the rod, while graded potentials tend to dissipate over short distances.

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