The force on a body resulting from it's motion through a fluid (gas or liquid). This force is directly opposed to the direction of travel.

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36
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6answers
46k views

Could someone jump from the international space station and live?

Felix Baumgartner just completed his breathtaking free-fall skydiving jump from $120,000\,\text{feet} = 39\,\text{km}$ above the Earth, breaking the speed of sound during the process. I was wondering ...
31
votes
5answers
5k views

Which ball touches the ground first?

This is a very well known problem, but I can't find an answer in the specific case I'm looking for. Let's consider two balls : Ball 1 weighs 10 kg Ball 2 weighs 1 kg Balls have identical volumes ...
29
votes
5answers
10k views

What are the precise statements by Shouryya Ray of particle dynamics problems posed by Newton which this news article claims have been solved?

This recent news article (here is the original, in German) says that Shouryya Ray, who moved to Germany from India with his family at the age of 12, has baffled scientists and mathematicians by ...
24
votes
5answers
8k views

Why do heavier objects fall faster in air?

We all know that in an idealised world all objects accelerate at the same rate when dropped regardless of their mass. We also know that in reality (or more accurately, in air) a lead feather falls ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

How long until we fall into the Sun?

As a planet moves through the solar system, a bow shock is formed as the solar wind is decelerated by the magnetic field of the planet. Presumably the creation of this shock wave would cause drag on ...
15
votes
1answer
267 views

How fast would a truck have to go to pull a pedestrian onto the road? [closed]

Let's suppose a pedestrian P is walking or standing next to a highway. Suppose a truck T will drive by the said pedestrian at speed V leaving distance L between the two. Assuming L is a reasonably ...
13
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4answers
4k views

Why doesn't a tied balloon behave like a pendulum?

It is well known that a tied weight will oscilate under the effect of gravity if left from aside, like a pendulum. However, if we tie a helium balloon to the ground from and left it form the floor ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Which ball falls faster, the cool one or the hot one?

Suppose we're on the top of the Tower of Pisa (or a larger version of it) with two identical cannonballs. We heat one up (say, to 200 degrees Celsius, or some other high temperature before it starts ...
13
votes
3answers
296 views

Would an airplane flying through superfluid helium experience lift and drag?

Would an airplane flying through superfluid helium experience lift and drag? The airplane is presumed cold enough to not heat up the helium.
12
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1answer
366 views

Do celestial objects experience drag from the near vacuum of space/does the near vacuum have a mean velocity?

For instance do the planets around the sun experience drag from the near vacuum of space? Or do the (hydrogen) atoms in interplanetary space have a mean velocity near orbital speeds, such that object ...
11
votes
5answers
3k views

Why would a fat skydiver fall first in free fall?

I was having one of those obnoxious conversations with a friend where he was arguing that a fat skydiver would reach the ground faster than a skinny skydiver. To me it seemed as obvious that the world ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

How do I calculate the distance a ship will take to stop?

I am a River Pilot and drive ships for a living. These ships are very large and range up to 160,000 Metric Tons. I am trying to figure out how to calculate the distance to stopping. I have a basic ...
10
votes
4answers
6k views

Acceleration of two falling objects with identical form and air drag but different masses

I have a theoretical question that has been bugging me and my peers for weeks now - and we have yet to settle on a concrete answer. Imagine two balloons, one is filled with air, one with concrete. ...
10
votes
1answer
467 views

How would you swim in inviscid water?

The viscosity of water creates drag on swimmer's body so its effect is to slow down the swimmer. However the viscosity seems to be essential for pushing the water backwards by the swimmer's arms and ...
9
votes
2answers
880 views

Why do co-rotating vortices coalesce, but not counter-rotating ones?

In studying the aerodynamics of modern aircraft equipped with high-lift devices, I have discovered that quite a number of distinct trailing vortices are present in the immediate wake of an airplane in ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Why does tossing a coin in a train and on a train differ?

Suppose that I am inside of a moving train. I have a coin in my hand and I am standing still. If I toss this coin straight up, it will fall back into my hand. Now, suppose that I am on that moving ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Would a fast inter-stellar spaceship benefit from an aerodynamic shape?

Some (generous) assumptions: We have a spaceship that can reach a reasonable fraction of light speed. The ship is able to withstand the high energies of matter impacting at that speed. Given the ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

How much more efficient is a road bike than a mountain bike? [closed]

What would be a good estimate on the difference of efficiency between a road bike and a mountain bike? A number of links cite all the usual reasons: thinner tires, better aerodynamics... But I'm ...
8
votes
4answers
5k views

What causes a soccer ball to follow a curved path?

Soccer players kick the ball in a linear kick, though you find it to turn sideways, not even in one direction. Just mid air it changes that curve's direction. Any physical explanation? Maybe this ...
8
votes
2answers
7k views

Explanation that air drag is proportional to speed or square speed?

A falling object with no initial velocity with mass $m$ is influenced by a gravitational force $g$ and the drag (air resistance) which is proportional to the object's speed. By Newton┬┤s laws this can ...
8
votes
2answers
965 views

Why aren't airplanes like golf balls?

Ok this is a silly question but here it goes Although it is good to have a laminar flow of the air around the object for low drag but the laminar flow is prone the phenomena called separation (sounds ...
7
votes
4answers
10k views

After what speed air friction starts to heat up an object?

I understand that air friction cools off an object at low speeds. For example, if you blow on a spoon of hot soup, it cools off. Or if you swing a hot frying pan in the air, it cools off faster. But ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Will a bullet dropped and a bullet fired from a gun horizontally REALLY hit the ground at the same time when air drag is taken into account?

In a world without air, I understand they definitely would. However, with drag taken into account, I think they wouldn't. Since the drag force varies proportional to the square of speed (ignoring the ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Could some design of a propeller be used in both air and water?

Propellers in water are smaller in diameter. They also move more slowly. On the other hand, aircraft propellers are larger in diameter, have narrower blades and operate at very high speeds. An ...
7
votes
2answers
257 views

How should I throttle my rocket to reach highest altitude? [closed]

"Real world" problem. Suppose we want to launch a rocket equipped with an engine which can be throttled as we prefer. Suppose also that the amount of fuel burnt per time is directly proportional ...
7
votes
3answers
369 views

Does fire create air resistance?

Does fire create air resistance/drag? So, for example, would it be harder to swing a flaming sword than a normal one?
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Equation for the trajectory of a frisbee?

I'm the lead programmer on a FIRST robotics team, and this year's competition is about throwing Frisbees. I was wondering if there was some sort of "grand unified equation" for Frisbee trajectory that ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Drag on a spinning ball in fluid

I am a physics newbie (high school level) and I am wondering what happens when a spherical object is spinning on the spot in a bunch of gas (no gravity here, just an imaginary physics sandbox). Am I ...
5
votes
8answers
1k views

Physics Paradox about Newtons Second Law $F=ma$

If force equals mass times acceleration, wouldn't a basketball dropped from the top of the Eiffel tower exert the same force on the ground as a basketball dropped a foot off the ground? They both ...
5
votes
3answers
265 views

If an electric car were to drive without having to stop, would the range be greatly affected by the speed at which the vehicle is moving?

Of course aerodynamics factors into this question, and the faster you are moving the more air you have to push out of your way, the more energy you use. But would the difference be only a small ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Benefits of rear spoiler in cars

What would be the benefits of rear spoilers in cars, like this one:
5
votes
2answers
547 views

How can you calculate air resistances at different speeds?

I've read that at 50mph air resistance to an average car is the equivalent of driving through water and at 80mph it's the equivalent of driving through oil. I can't find any references online to ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What would a person experience in a free-falling elevator in a shaft long enough to reach terminal velocity?

Assume we had an elevator shaft long enough for a free-falling elevator to reach terminal velocity. As I understand it, when the elevator begins to fall a person inside would experiences ...
5
votes
1answer
251 views

How can I estimate the density of fog?

I'm working on investigating the effect fog has on drag. I have assumed an air density of $1.225 \frac{\text{kg}}{\text{m}^3}$ for dry air, but I don't know what value for density I could assume that ...
5
votes
2answers
479 views

What was the muzzle velocity of a home made gun launch strait in the air if air time was 8.2sec?

I built a potato gun and wanted to calculate the muzzle velocity. I remember from physics that I could run the numbers by calculating time from launch until landing. After pointing strait into the air ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

In tennis, why does topspin serve bounce higher than flat serve?

When receiving servers (while playing tennis), I've noticed that the tennis ball seems to bounce up higher on me when the server uses a topspin serve than when the server hits a flat serve. Why is ...
4
votes
4answers
13k views

Terminal velocity of all falling objects is same?

Ideally 2 objects of different mass and weight will hit the floor at same time because they face same gravitational pull and accelerate. Will the terminal velocity of both objects be same also? and ...
4
votes
3answers
421 views

What factors determine whether wind resistance will have an important effect?

What factors determine whether or not wind resistance will have an important effect on the trajectory of a projectile?
4
votes
2answers
3k views

If starting speed is faster than terminal velocity then what?

If an object is say thrown down (vertically) at an initial speed that is faster than its terminal velocity, what would happen to that objects speed? Would it slow down?
4
votes
4answers
4k views

How Felix Baumgartner has reached the speed of sound quickly

I have watched Felix Baumgartner freefall; but I wonder how Felix has reached the speed of sound quickly, in a matter of some seconds, then we had no idea of its speed? Any explanation please.
4
votes
5answers
2k views

Force required to drive car

From what I know of Newtonian Mechanics, if an object is moving at a constant velocity, the net force acting on that object is equal to zero. If there is friction, then the applied force required to ...
4
votes
2answers
89 views

Reasons for decaying orbit for satellites and spacecrafts

As per newton's law, unless a force is applies, moving objects will continue to move in a straight line. A satellite which speeds at around 17.5k mph would be travelling in a straight line considering ...
4
votes
1answer
574 views

Uses of the Reynolds number

I have seen a lot of places talking about the Reynolds number and how it is calculated, but I have never seen an equation that actually made use of this number to calculate lift, drag, or other ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Does wind speed things up or accelerate things?

This question may seem odd, but I can't think of anything better. So I'll go straight to the point. Let's say there's a projectile in air going east, shot at a certain angle, with a certain speed. ...
3
votes
2answers
454 views

What is the terminal velocity of a sheep?

Inspired by this question on Gaming.SE Using actual in-real-life physics, what would the terminal velocity of a sheep actually be? I would assume it would be around 50m/s, but I might be wrong. ...
3
votes
2answers
658 views

At what g is terminal velocity not terminal?

How weak would gravity need to be in order for a human to reliably survive the terminal velocity of falling through air? (Context: watching scifi on a space station with a variety of artificial ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

Which will stop first a heavier car or a lighter car?

If the friction from brakes, wind resistance and all such factors remain constant, which will stop first? A heavier car or a lighter car? How will the momentum of the car and gravitational pull on a ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Is the wind's force on a stationary object proportional to $v^2$?

I am on a boat docked at Cape Charles, VA, about 30 or 40 miles from the center of Hurricane Irene. This understandably got me thinking about the force of wind on the boat. Since air friction is ...
3
votes
1answer
151 views

What is the physical interpretation of the linear coefficient in this ODE for projectile motion?

For the second order ODE governing the position of a projectile subject to air resistance $$ m\frac{d^2x}{dt^2} +k\frac{dx}{dt}+mg=0 \quad k>0, \> x(0)=0, \> x'(0)=V>0 $$ a ...
3
votes
2answers
300 views

Is there a better approximation of drag (other than quadratic drag)?

This is a student inquiry sparked by sheer curiosity. Wikipedia states the drag equation, $F = 1/2v^2pC_dA_c$. (p = mass density of fluid/gas, v = velocity, c_d = drag coefficient, a_c = cross ...