Monday, February 8, 2010

Centripetal spill

A blur, a bang, a broom... okay, well that last one was actually a mop, but would the rule of two really have the same impact? Anyway, you'd never really suspect a humble water-filled bucket and some string to cause the level of entertainment experience in Physics today. I know I never did.

Naturally, trudging into the dulled, yet somehow enthralling, class room I awaited the norm - a few work sheets here, some calculations there and in general an affirming lesson proving to myself that this knowledge will reside in my head for the long-term.

So when, having completed the routine, my teacher pulled out the seemingly innocuous apparatus of a bucket filled with water hanging off a string, the class buzzed with excitement at a subtle change to the standard fare. Of course, this had a point - it was a model to demonstrate how centripetal forces (those acting towards the centre of an object and cause it to follow a circular path).

After watching our teacher hesitantly make the full circle (admittedly, it is a frightening thing and you really have to go for it with vigour) and impressively contain all of the water, it was the turn of any willing volunteer. As I, among others, suspected, one of my more daring peers and a regular hand-raiser got straight up to have ago. I shuffled back in my seat (you know, just in case), but inside knew that any soaking would be well worth the laugh. It looked promising as she began to swing the bucket and build momentum, but one over-zealous arm movement and water gushed down triumphantly, as if fooled into thinking that it had beaten centripetal forces. It spread itself out nicely, too, spanning around 6 feet, yet somehow no one was even splattered.

Now, as you probably know, school's never the most fascinating or humourous place, so when an utterly amazing and hilarious thing like this happens, it's impossible to contain yourself. The class, teacher et al, erupted in a haze of contagious laughter, literally to the extent that tears raced down my face, perhaps to join their floor-based liquid companions. Our teacher didn't appear at all frustrated and simply began to mop up while still in convulsions of laughter, which only added to the sheer splendour of that lesson. So, it all turned out to be even more exciting than could have ever been anticipated, and I know I'll remember the law of centripetal force now!

No comments:

Post a Comment