Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Carousel Rides

A Geometry and Physics Lesson- or Why Thrill Seekers Should Always Choose the Horse on the Outside of the Carousel.

Josh and I rode a carousel the other day. It was the perfect opportunity for a geometry and physics lesson.

Me- "Did you know the horse on the outside goes faster than the horse on the inside?"
... Josh- "What?! How? No way. How do you know?"

Well, I'll show you my friends! If you "don't like math", hang with me. I promise I'll try to make it painless.

The horse on the inside is closer to the center, and therefore spins in a smaller circle than the horse on the outside which is farther away from the center. If we measured how many feet the horse was from the center of the carousel we would have the radius of its circular path.

Let's pretend Horse A is 5 feet away from the center. Horse B is 7 feet away. Horse C is 9 feet away. Now we can find the distance each horse travels around the carousel (circumference of each horse's circle) with the formula circumference equals 2 times pi times radius.

Still with me? Alright! For simplicity let's say it takes 1 minute for each horse to go all the way around the carousel once. Distance equals rate times time. We already know the distance each horse travels, and the time is 1 minute. Solve for rate, and voila!

Of course, Josh had to ride several times to see if he could feel the difference. ;) We had a lot of fun.

(please excuse my inability to draw circles with our drawing program)
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