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What is going on here? - Mechanics Puzzler

  1. Oct 18, 2004 #1
    A boat is moving in the x-direction with constant velocity. The frictional force against the boat is constant and independent of its mass. There is a pile of sand on the boat. Someone starts shoveling the sand off the boat strictly in the y-direction with respect to the boat.
    Here is my question:
    If the frictional force is independent of the boat's mass, then the forces in the x-direction (force of engine + frictional force) should always cancel regardles off the sand being shoveled off. But at the same time, dp/dt in the x-direction should not be zero because the boat's mass is changing even though the mass is being shoveled off in the y-direction. How to resolve this problem?
  2. jcsd
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