Monday, October 6, 2008

Physics Question

Here we go, why not throw out an age old physics question:

Imagine, if you will, a plane sitting on a large conveyor belt which is as wide and as long as a runway. The treadmill is designed to match the speed of the wheels, moving in the opposite direction. Can the plane take off?

This question normally stirs up quite a debate, do you think you know without looking it up on the internet? Just think about it, consider the system and the particular physical interactions that are occurring. I'll post an answer to this in a week or so.

3 comments:

Melanie said...

Look, Buddy, I watched his on Mythbusters AND I listened to Zych ask the question several times, without ever hearing HIS answer...Now I have to wait a week to hear YOUR answer...I am so over this question.

Gerry said...

Nope! The plane stays stationary and therefore doesn't achieve aerodynamic lift.

Am I right, am I right? Do I win??

Greg said...

Ah, so indeed the plane does take off. It's simple really, while the treadmill is matching the the speed of the wheels of the jet, jets don't obtain lift-off from their wheels. Instead, it is the thrust of the jet that provides the necessary forces to propel the jet into the air. Now, some might argue that aerodynamic lift is not created because of a lack of airflow over the wings. Well, the treadmill simply causes the wheels to spin while the engines "push" against the air, creating lift. The treadmill just makes the wheels spin faster.