Friday, November 03, 2006

My fridge is faster than your racecar

My friend Chris and I were having a friendly chat the other night about how fast our motorcycles are (a common topic when motorcyclists get together). In the grand pantheon of fast vehicles, sportbikes definitely offer the best performance for the money, faster than most race cars, in terms of acceleration. A typical middleweight bike like mine or Chris' will hit 60mph in a touch over 3 seconds.

But then it was time for a little bump back down to earth. One of us suggested a fridge free-falling would accelerate faster. Time to break out some old high school physics and a calculator...

If I remember correctly, gravity produces an acceleration of 9.8m/s2. Every second, a body acted on by gravity will increase its speed by 9.8 metres per second. That's 22mph. Sadly that means that after three seconds, our free-falling fridge is already 66mph, 6mph faster than our bikes, which require an additional 0.3 of a second to hit 60. By the time we're at 60mph, the fridge is doing 73.

Of course there's no account made for air resistance in our hypothetical situation, so if anyone knows what the expected resistance would be, I'd love to know. It would need to impede our falling kitchen appliance by 19% to give the bikes a chance.

So there you have it. My fridge is faster than your racecar.

1 comment:

Frumious Frog said...

Of course if you throw your bike over a cliff it will fall just as fast. However, if you are already travelling abour your terminal velocity (120mph for a human body, never tried a bike) then you will *slow down* once you are in free-fall.