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Science / Dot Physics

Trigonometry Is Essential to Physics. Here Are the Basics

You might have already passed that silly course with a title something like “Introductory Algebra and Trigonometry.” It covered a bunch of stuff, but the important part was that the class was a prerequisite for your physics course. But do you really understand the very basic concepts of trig? Yes, …

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Use a Slo-Mo Video to Calculate How Fast Glass Shatters

If you have a super-expensive camera that records in high speed, you should just record some stuff. Right? That’s exactly what Dan and Gav do on their YouTube channel, The Slow Mo Guys. In their most recent video, they decided to determine the speed of breaking glass. The plan is …

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How Dense Does a Body Have to Be to Break a Concrete Floor?

I often miss some cool stuff the first time I watch a movie. This is probably a good thing—it shows that I’m focused on the story and not the small details. In this case, the movie is 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and the scene involves the density of a …

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No GPS? A DIY Radio Transmitter Can Help You Navigate

Suppose you traveled back in time—say 40,000 years into the past—and then you got stuck. What would you do? How would you rebuild all the stuff that you like? That’s the premise of the book How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler, by Ryan North. …

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An Energy Evolution: From Delicious to Dirty to Almost Free

If you think about the history of humans (disclaimer, I’m a human) you could make the argument that history is about the quest for energy. Not just any old energy, we want it cheap or maybe even free. If you have nearly limitless energy, you can do pretty much anything. …

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How Kyrie Irving Could've Leaned Over So Far Without Falling

In a recent video, Celtics player Kyrie Irving stands on a basketball court, with his legs straight and feet planted together, and leeeeeeans forward. He looks like he’s about to topple. But he doesn’t. He calmly returns to a normal upright standing position, shakes out his arms and stretches his …

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What Would It Take to Shoot a Cannonball Into Orbit?

Gravity is pretty complicated if you think about it. The motion of a ball falling on the surface of the Earth is caused by the same interaction as the moon orbiting the Earth. That’s crazy. It’s even crazier to realize that humans figured out that these two motions (falling ball …

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Aquaman Trailer: The Physics of His Leap from the Water

OK, I’m a little excited for the new Aquaman movie. Sure, I’ve been let down by DC movies before—but we also got Wonder Woman (which was awesome). Also, as a kid my mom made an Aquaman costume for me. She said it was the best costume for me since I …

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Try Landing InSight on Mars (Without Exploding)

NASA just parked its InSight lander on Mars. Yes, Mars. This is a pretty big deal since quite a few Mars missions didn’t make it. It’s no wonder I get super excited about missions to Mars. For this particular mission, the lander, protected by a heat shield, used the Mars …

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How to Deconstruct a Football Tackle With Physics

Few things herald Thanksgiving as loudly as turkeys, flight delays, and long hours in front of the TV watching football. It’s an important time in the football calendar, with the playoffs beginning to shape up for both college football and the NFL. But what about those impacts? I don’t mind …

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