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« the ones that got away: science through cross-disciplinary eyes | Main | i think it's time »


Regarding LeBron James jumping over a taxi cab - this reminds me of Kobe Bryant jumping over a car. I did an analysis of it and seems like he could even if they faked the video - which is possible. They could have done a camera-angle trick.

(Total tangent: A 44 oz Coke contains 371 kilocalories of energy, which is equal to the kinetic energy of a passenger car going 86 mph.)

Ok, so I'm not a physicist but I know total BS when I see it. So I quickly looked up the nutrition info for coke which is 97 CALORIES per 8 oz ( So a 44 OZ coke would come in at 533 CALORIES. Which is equal to the kinetic energy of a car traveling at 86 mph, IF your car weighs 1.5 kg. Oh sorry that's 3.3 lbs for the imperials. So you were off by three orders of magnitude.

Seriously, some bell must've gone of when you wrote that down. Especially since the average human intake (in most of the world at least) is about 2500 calories daily...

@Frank: There is a difference between calories and Calories. In their infinite wisdom, the unit gods decreed that we would use the same word to mean two different things and the only way we would distinguish between them is capitalization. Capital-C "Calories" are the unit we use to measure the energy in food. One Calorie is actual a kilocalorie, or one thousand small-c calories. That is where the apparent discrepancy of 1000 comes in.

hmmm... it's been a while since I was in high school physics, and now I'm in finance - so my math usage is limited to calculating APR. But, I'll try to keep up here anyway.
Your calculations show that the cup hit the windshield at 100+ mph, which you argue could plausibly give it enough force to break the windshield, but I didn't see anything about the windshield hitting the cup at 100+ mph. I would think that the force would definitely be enough to crush something, but wouldn't it be the cup that gives way before the windshield?

Surely it would be rare for a person to discard a full cup of Coke. It seems more reasonable to assume that it was mostly empty. In which case, the impact force would be significantly less.

@cap: You're making an assumption that the person who threw the soda was thinking the way you or I would think. The driver of the car got very wet and there are soda stains all over the inside of the car, so there was a significant amount of soda left. This wasn't an "I'm done with my soda, I think I'll throw the cup outside the window" thing.
The unknowns are what give us the very large error bars on getting actual numerical values. Thanks for your comment!

Nice article.

I know for a fact that an owl will go through a semi-truck windshield. I hit one at about 60 (the owl flying across the road) and it went clear through the passenger side windshield.

Nice blog, its great article informative post, thanks for sharing it. Thanks for the information!

I seem to recall a magazine article from 50 years ago or so (Popular Science? or Pop. Mechanics?) describing a Ford publicity stunt where they drove several Fords continuously for 24 hours at over 100 mph to prove their reliability and performance. Carelessness (or monotony) set in and a crew member thoughtlessly tossed a paper cup filled with water onto the track just as a car went by. It punched a hole in the windshield.

Physics is really nice and should be learned. But for my point of view - I think that's always better to use the knowledge acquired in physics for topics nicer and happier than accidents, such as calculating the height of the outbreak of Mentos in the Coke bottle or something like that :)

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.