Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We Showed 'Troll Physics' Comics to a Physics Professor. Here's His Reaction.

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Troll PsychicsIs it possible to "troll" the very laws of matter and motion that govern the universe for your own kinetic benefit? For example, can one survive a falling elevator by jumping up in the air at the last minute? Also, f*cking electromagnetism - how does it work?

If you've pondered any of those questions before, the blog Troll Physics offers incredibly simple but impossible "hacks" for manipulating the laws of nature to yield infinite energy, money and/or sexual partners. Since this site is pretty much a physics teacher's worst nightmare, I cornered one to get his reaction. David Morgan, a natural science professor with a PhD in physics, was kind enough to bring some logic and rational discourse to this hilariously asinine pile of hot meme trash. Read on for a play-by-play scientific smackdown.
troll physics
DM: "Up" is not "North"...the only reasonable meaning for the word "up" is "in the opposite direction of the Earth's gravitational pull at the surface." So saying "holding the Earth up" doesn't even make any sense. I'm pretty sure I just got a little stupider while explaining that.

troll physics
DM: Jumping off the ground - or even a chair on the ground - is nothing like jumping off a chair while you and the chair are in freefall. Because the chair isn't connected to anything, you'll be pushing the chair DOWN as much as pushing yourself up (via Newton's third law). And since you have much more mass than the chair, the force you and the chair exert on one another will speed up the chair's descent much more than it slows your own.

troll physics
DM: If all the plants on the planet can't currently absorb the human-generated CO2 where they are, moving some of them closer to the cars certainly isn't going to help. Stupid.

troll physics
DM: One look at the bottoms of the two wheels is enough to see that this doesn't amount to "downhill" in any way whatsoever.

troll physics
DM: You don't really need a guy with a PhD to explain to you that bacon isn't a plant, right?

troll physics
DM: This actually makes an interesting point, sort of. Why don't you recoil when you shine a beam of light? The answer is -You actually do! But not at the same SPEED as the light - with the same MOMENTUM as the light. The momentum (p) of a single photon of light is equal its energy divided by the speed of light (E = c p). So how much momentum does a beam of light carry? Well, suppose we shine a 100 Watt spotlight - we are producing 100 Joules of light energy per second (a Watt is a Joule of energy per second). So every second we are giving that light a momentum of (100J) / (300,000,000m/s) = .00000033 kg m/s.

To give a sense of how hard of a push that is, let's assume that the stupid troll thing in the wagon weighs 50 kg. To accelerate the wagon up to a speed of 1 m/s (around 3 feet per second... which is still pretty slow) would take (33 million * 50) seconds, which is 52 years. And that's assuming no friction!

(In reality, it would never move at all because of friction, so we'd have to do it in space. In fact, even though this seems like a feeble form of propulsion, NASA has plans for prototypes of a "solar sail" to push space probes out of the solar system using no propulsion other than that provided by reflected sunlight!)


Sent from James' iPhone

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