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Solutions to December 2003 Challenges

Rocket From the Pocket

(Column Editors Note: We do appreciate this

readers concern for the well-being of the

commander and the alternative friendly

solution. However, everyone should know that

the commander happens to be a very tough space

alien who can easily survive the accelerations

involved)

Challenge: A spaceship is traveling in outer space at a

constant velocity v =1000 m/s. Suddenly, the commander

observes an asteroid straight ahead. The distance to the

asteroid is L = 9.0 km; the diameter of the asteroid is

D = 7.0 km. The commander attempts to take an evasive

maneuver by firing the emergency rocket. The rocket gives

the spaceship a very quick change in velocity v = 300 m/s.

Is it possible for the spaceship to avoid the collision?

Assume that the commander can fire the rocket in any

direction.

Solution: I suppose that L = 9.0 km is the distance to the surface of the asteroid.

collision, is .

sin () = 3.5/12,5 = 0.28

A friendly solution is a

circular trajectory with

a radius R for the spaceship (that would require

a continuous thrust,

however).

(R + 3,5)2 = 12.52 + R2.

R = 20,6 km.

The centripetal acceleration is then ac = v2/R =

48,6 m/s2.

This gives the commander a better chance of

surviving this adventure.

(Contributed by Leo H. van den Raadt,

Heemstede, The Netherlands)

Spinning the Reel

Challenge: A reel is being pulled along a horizontal surface

by the string wrapped around as shown. There is no

slipping between the reel and the surface. The string is

pulled at a constant speed v. Find the angular speed v of

the reel assuming that r and R are given.

= 16.3.

is possible is .

sin () = 300/1000 = 0.3

= 17.5.

The only problem is that the commander

experiences a change in velocity of 300 m/s in

a short period of time. The commander

experiences an acceleration of at least 300 m/s2.

I have no idea if he/she/it can survive this

acceleration

A-1

the speed v of the string equals the speed of the

top-most point of the inner diameter of the

reel. But this point is a distance R + r above the

bottom-most point of the outer diameter.

Since this latter is the point at which the reel

contacts the floor without slipping, it is

instantaneously at rest. Thus the spool

point with angular speed = v/(R + r).

A slightly longer, alternative solution is often

helpful for introductory students who are not

comfortable with the concept of instantaneous

axes of pure rotation. Suppose the reel rolls

forward one revolution. This means the entire

reel in general, and the top-most point of the

inner diameter in particular, has moved forward a distance of 2R. During this time, we

have unreeled an additional length 2r of

string. Thus the total displacement of any

initially unreeled point on the string is

2R + 2r, during a time interval of one period of revolution T. That is, the speed of this

fixed point on the unreeled string is

v = 2(R + r)/T. However, the angular speed of

rotation of the reel is = 2/T and so we once

again conclude that = v/(R + r).

(Contributed by Carl E. Mungan, U. S. Naval

Academy, Annapolis, MD)

High Jump

Challenge: A student of height h jumps vertically up from

the squat position. At the top point of the jump, the

students center of mass is at a height 3h/4 from the

ground. Find the average force F acting on the floor prior

to the moment when the student loses contact with the

floor. It is known that when the student stands on the floor,

the center of mass is at a height h/2 from the floor; in the

squat position, the center of mass is at a height h/4 from

the floor. The mass of the student is m.

force with the floor does no physical work on

the person (energy transfers occur internally

from the muscles), one can write a mathematically correct expression as though the contact

force with the floor does change the persons

energy. Hence, we can treat the center of mass

motion as Wnet = Kcm. Here, we are treating

it as though only gravity and the floor act on

the person, and since the person is in contact

with the floor until the center of mass is a

-h

h

Ffloor + mg = 0

2

4

rest. Therefore, Ffloor = 2mg.

Method 2: Since the feet come off the floor at a

accelerates upward from h/4 to h/2 with the

same magnitude as the acceleration from h/2

to 3h/4 by symmetry. Therefore, the net force

on the student going upward is the same in

magnitude as the student in free fall from h/2

to 3h/4. Hence, while in contact with the floor,

using Newtons second law,

Ffloor mg = mg Ffloor = 2mg.

(Contributed by Michael C. Faleski, Delta

College, Midland, MI)

Several other readers also sent us correct solutions to the December Challenges. We would

like to recognize the following contributors:

James J. Carr (Webster, NY)

Daniel Daoust (Cgep de Trois-Rivires,

Qubec, Canada)

John F. Goehl Jr. (Barry University, Miami

Shores, FL)

Jia He, student (Saint Johns Prep School,

Collegeville, MN)

Art Hovey (Milford, CT)

Gran Norln (Lund, Sweden)

Inge H. A. Pettersen (University of Oslo, Arendal, Norway)

Amirali M. Shanechi, student (Don Mills C.I.,

Toronto, Canada)

We appreciate your submissions and hope to

receive more solutions in the future.

A-2

Note to Contributors:

request that certain guidelines be observed, in

order to facilitate the process more efficiently:

Please email the solutions as Word files;

Please name the file as Feb04LSimpson if

for instance your name is Lisa Simpson,

and you are sending the solutions to February,

2004 Challenges;

Please state your name, hometown and professional affiliation in the file, not only in the

email message.

A-3

Many thanks!

Please send correspondence to:

Boris Korsunsky

444 Wellesley St.

Weston, MA 02493-2631

korsunbo@post.harvard.edu

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