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Science brain teasers require understanding of the physical or biological world and the laws that govern it.


Puzzle ID:#8362
Fun:*** (2.38)
Difficulty:** (1.23)
Submitted By:something*us****
Corrected By:cnmne




Jeff and I were playing on the Merry-Go-Round at the local park. It was very large. We stood on opposite sides and spun the Merry-Go-Round counter-clockwise. I threw a ball to Jeff. From my perspective, did the ball go to Jeff, or did it go to the right of him or the left of him?

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Nov 11, 2002

This is a great science teaser about circular motion . I would like to add that if this experiment was done with a frictionless air puck , then the person who shot the puck toward Jeff could actually end up catching it on the opposite side if the speed of rotation and the speed of the puck were adjusted correctly .
Nov 11, 2002

you also need to take into account that the ball will have some velocity at right angles to the direction you've thrown it. in this case the circular velocity will also "throw" the ball at an angle to the right of the original path straight across the merry-go-round.
Dec 08, 2002

I agree with lanmat, but still a good science teaser. I love these types of problems.
Dec 15, 2002

maybe's going a tad over board there with your answers but an ok teaser i guess
Dec 28, 2002

i had to do this with my fingers lol. good teaser!!
Jul 10, 2003

I disagree. As the puzzle states, the ball was thrown, not rolled on the surface of the spinning merry-go-round. As such, it's spin would not affect the throw, which would go directly to the receiver.
Dec 30, 2003

I believe with all certainty that the ball will go to the left of him. When the ball is thrown, it has two vector components, one tangent to the circular motion due to the spin and one perpendicular due to the throw. This will result in the ball travelling diagonal to its intended path. If it is thrown fast enough, it will pretty much go in a straight path perpendicular to the circular motion. Either way, both situation end up witht he ball to the left of the receiver. Since the merry-go-around is traveling counter-clock wise, the person receiving the catch is now to the right of the path and and the ball goes to his left side. As an example, think if the thrower is at the 3 o'clock position and the receiver is at the 9 o'clock positon. After the ball is thrown, if they are moving counter-clockwise, they will be at 2 and 8 and the ball will be at the 9 position, to the left of the receiver.
Dec 30, 2003

This one is for fishmed. The spin has an effect on the path of the ball. Ever since the time of Newton, scientist have known that moving objects have inertia and thus will follow their path of motion in a straight line unless something stops it. Thus anything released from a spinning object will continue in a path tangent to the spin.
Dec 30, 2003

I stand corrected. Maybe I should have noted that it would "almost" go directly towards the receiver, as noted before, if it was thrown hard enough to overcome the spin of the thrower. Thanks for reminding me. Math class has been quite some time ago.
Jan 12, 2004

I totally agree with Curtis. At the exact moment that the ball leaves the hand of the thrower it is a direct line with the person to catch it.. but since the object is rotating counter clock wise, the ball with arrive to the left of the catcher
Feb 27, 2004

In defense of the given answer, I do believe 'something' intended "to the right of him" to be from the perspective of the thrower. Considering that the puzzle was written in first person as the thrower, the most likely interpretation would be that the ball appeared to veer to the right from their perspecetive.

This is also a great explanation of Coreolis force that shapes the Earth's weather (i.e. direction of hurricane rotation).
Feb 27, 2004

d'oh, I meant Coriolis, not Coreolis!
Jul 24, 2005

yeah i got confused as well - i was convinced that the ball would go to the left of the receiver as the receiver is travelling to the right
Aug 26, 2005

Actually the ball would hit the circular operational cage that's in the center...
Sep 15, 2005

Not that type of merry-go-round... one that you spin by pushing on the outside... but as to whether right or left, the answer becomes the right as viewed by the thrower, but the left of the intended receiver.
Apr 09, 2009

you're strong enough to push a merry-go-round?

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