Why Can’t a Magnet-Propelled Truck Truly Work?


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Lastly, we’ve got the crane itself. I left off a few of the unimportant forces right here—essentially the most important are the forces from the magnet and the cart pulling in reverse instructions.

All of those objects have a internet drive of zero. That is the necessary half: With a zero internet drive, there will likely be a zero acceleration. These three objects that begin with a velocity of zero will keep at zero. They will not transfer. It will not work.

I feel a part of the rationale it’s exhausting to understand why this received’t work is which you can’t instantly see the enticing interplay between the magnet and the cart. That kind of makes it look like magic—and magic could make issues transfer.

So here’s a slight variation of the magnet-cart that additionally would not work: Suppose I preserve the crane hooked up to the cart, however I change the magnet and iron with a rubber band. When stretched, a rubber band additionally produces a lovely drive just like the interplay between the magnet and iron. Nevertheless, with the rubber band you may really see the interplay. Test it out:

{Photograph}: Rhett Allain

It would not transfer, and I do not assume anybody would count on it to. Nevertheless it’s basically the identical because the magnet cart.

Wile E. Coyote Understands Physics

I like to make use of previous cartoons as examples, and within the Looney Tunes Street Runner sequence, Wile E. Coyote is at all times looking for new methods to catch the very fast-moving chicken—or possibly a foolish rabbit. Often he will get issues incorrect, however each as soon as and some time he simply occurs to be proper. Effectively, kind of proper.

Within the episode beneath, he places out some chicken seed with further iron. After the Street Runner eats it, Wile E. attaches a magnet to himself in order that he can catch that chicken.

After all, it would not work, as a result of within the cartoon the magnet will get drawn to a shifting prepare, and so Wile E. crashes into it. And, extra realistically, on this case the magnetic interplay would produce an especially tiny drive that would not be sufficient to beat friction.

Nevertheless, the principle thought is a minimum of based mostly on one thing actual. Did you discover that with this Wile E. Coyote technique, the magnet and iron are hooked up to 2 separate issues? That is the necessary half. Keep in mind that forces are available pairs. The magnet pulls on the Street Runner, however the Street Runner pulls again on the magnet. Because the drive from the magnet is on the Street Runner and never on some a part of Wile E., which means these forces don’t cancel and he is ready to zoom off to his personal destruction.

Ultimately, when issues look too good to be true, they in all probability are.


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