A tag for questions about the mechanical interactions of rotating objects, including torque and angular momentum.

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56
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6answers
4k views

Is there a way for an astronaut to rotate?

We know that if an imaginary astronaut is in the intergalactic (no external forces) and has an initial velocity zero, then he has is no way to change the position of his center of mass. The law of ...
51
votes
8answers
25k views

Proof that the Earth rotates?

What is the proof, without leaving the Earth, and involving only basic physics, that the earth rotates around its axis? By basic physics I mean the physics that the early physicists must've used to ...
49
votes
11answers
14k views

Why does dust stick to rotating fan propeller?

Why does dust stick to rotating fan propeller? Intuitively, most people (including I) think of the dust will not stick to rotating fan propellers. EDIT 1: Thank you for the great explanations. I am ...
47
votes
7answers
5k views

Why is the Earth so fat?

I made a naive calculation of the height of Earth's equatorial bulge and found that it should be about 10km. The true height is about 20km. My question is: why is there this discrepancy? The ...
41
votes
4answers
11k views

How do bicycle spokes work?

As you know, it is quite obvious that bicycle spokes attach the hub in the center to the rim. What else do they do? If you compare the wheels today with the ones from ancient times, there are more ...
41
votes
8answers
11k views

Why doesn't a bike/bicycle fall if going with a high speed?

Why does a bike/bicycle fall when its speed is very low or close to zero and is balanced when going with a high speed?
40
votes
7answers
5k views

Why does everything spin?

The origin of spin is some what a puzzle to me, everything spin from galaxies to planets to weather to electrons. Where has all the angular momentum come from? Why is it so natural? I was also ...
39
votes
2answers
7k views

Why don't galaxies orbit each other?

Planets orbit around stars, satellites orbit around planets, even stars orbit each other. So the question is: Why don't galaxies orbit each other in general, as it's rarely observed? Is it considered ...
38
votes
6answers
6k views

How can the Earth keep spinning with a liquid core?

In regards to the 'conservation of angular momentum' being the explanation of why celestial objects spin... If you fill a ball or any other container with a liquid and try to spin it, you will not ...
34
votes
4answers
2k views

Intuition as to why the orientation (of a 3D object) is not a conserved quantity?

Say you start off floating in space, in a fixed position and orientation, with zero linear and angular velocity, with no external forces. So you are a closed mechanical system. By twisting your body ...
33
votes
4answers
4k views

How can earthquakes shift the earth's axis?

One often comes across news articles that claim that an earthquake shifted the earth's axis. http://news.google.com/?q=earthquake%20shifted%20OR%20shifts%20earth%27s%20axis If you ignore the ...
32
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does this object periodically turn itself?

See below gif image taken from here. Or see this Youtube video about 30 sec in. Is this a real effect? Why does it seem to turn periodically? Can it be explained by classical mechanics alone? ...
31
votes
4answers
3k views

Can adding weight to something make it tilt slower?

Let's say we have 2 sticks, both a meter long. We put both of them on the ground vertically. To the top of one of them we attach a weight. Then we tip both of them over and let them fall. Assume ...
25
votes
7answers
3k views

If I toss a coin, vertically, on the surface of Mars, will it land back in my hand?

When I toss a coin in Mars, is the planets atmosphere rare enough that I'd rotate with the planet (at its angular velocity), but not the coin?
25
votes
9answers
6k views

Physical meaning of the angular momentum

Still reading Classical Mechanics by Goldstein, I'm struggling on a very basic notion: angular momentum. I physically understand it as the momentum of an object rotating around something given a ...
25
votes
4answers
22k views

Stability of rotation of a rectangular prism

I've noticed something curious about the rotation of a rectangular prism. If I take a box with height $\neq$ width $\neq$ depth and flip it into the air around different axes of rotation, some motions ...
24
votes
6answers
5k views

The sound of rotating helicopter blades

Why do helicopter blades make this pulsing, oscilating, slapping(?) sound? Since their movement is smooth, shouldn't the sound be a similar, constant shush, perhaps increasing or decreasing in ...
23
votes
7answers
10k views

Why don't spinning tops fall over?

One topic which was covered in university, but which I never understood, is how a spinning top "magically" resists the force of gravity. The conservation of energy explanations make sense, but I don't ...
22
votes
6answers
9k views

Can a car steer on a frictionless surface?

Do the front tires of a car act like gyroscopes, such that a car could steer on a frictionless surface?
21
votes
3answers
2k views

A rope attaches the Moon to the Earth. What happens?

Consider the Earth (mass $M$, radius $R$, rotating about its own axis at $\Omega$) and the moon (mass $m$, radius $r$, with axial rotation equal to $\omega_m$), whose centre of masses are $d$ apart. ...
20
votes
1answer
2k views

What determines the angle of the cushion on a pool table?

If you look at the cushions (bumpers) on a pool table, you'll see that they're not vertical. They're tilted inwards. About 10 years ago, I came across a physics exam in which one of the problems ...
19
votes
3answers
5k views

How quickly was the Earth rotating 250 million years ago?

The Earth is slowing at a rate of $4.7\times10^{-4}$ miles per second every 100 years due to tidal forces of the moon. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth%27s_rotation ...
19
votes
8answers
5k views

Does it take more energy to open a door when applying force close to the hinge?

Assuming an ordinary hinged door (without any springs), would it take more energy to open it when applying force in the middle of the door (point b), rather than at the end of the door (point a), ...
17
votes
6answers
5k views

Why does the weighing balance restore when tilted and released

I'm talking about a Weighing Balance shown in the figure: Press & Hold on onside of the horizontal beam and then release it. It makes some oscillations and comes back to equilibrium like shown ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

Does holding weights allow you to run faster?

I'm not talking about training with weights so that when you run without them your muscles are used to pushing more weight so with less weight it'll be easier, I'm talking about while actually holding ...
15
votes
10answers
30k views

What do people actually mean by “rolling without slipping”?

I have never understood what's the meaning of the sentence "rolling without slipping". Let me explain. I'll give an example. Yesterday my mechanics professor introduced some concepts of rotational ...
15
votes
4answers
5k views

Why does each celestial object spin on its own axis?

AFAIK all the celestial objects have a spin motion around its axis. What is the reason for this? If it must rotate by some theory, what decides it's direction and speed of rotation? Is there any ...
15
votes
8answers
7k views

What is the electric field generated by a spinning magnet?

Consider a cylinder of permanently magnetized material, with uniform magnetization pointing along the cylindrical symmetry axis (the $z$-direction). The magnet is rotating about its cylindrical ...
15
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does a cuboid spin stably around two axes but not the third?

Let $C$ be a cuboid (rectangular parallelepiped) with edges of lengths $a < b < c$. Consider an axis that passes through the centers of two opposite faces of $C$. There are three such axes, ...
15
votes
1answer
505 views

What is the evidence for the super-rotation of Earth's inner core?

What are the geophysical observations that support (or contradict) the hypothesis that the Earth's inner core rotates at a faster rate than the Earth's mantle? Summary of Answers: 1) Studies of ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Unfurling a toilet paper roll in the ISS

Consider a toilet paper roll floating ISS. Can an astronaut unfurl the roll only by pulling the loose end of paper (and not holding the rest of the roll in place, for example by using his finger as an ...
13
votes
1answer
730 views

Is this a quaternion representation of the equations of motion of General Relativity?

In The Quaternion Group and Modern Physics by P.R. Girard, the quaternion form of the general relativistic equation of motion is derived from $du'/ds = (d a / d s ) u {a_c}^* + a u ( d {a_c}^* / ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the physics of a spinning coin?

When we spin a coin on a table, we observe 2 things: It slows down and stops after sometime. It does not stay at just one point on the table but its point of contact with table changes with time. ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

What causes the back of a bike to lift when the front brake is applied?

What causes the back of a bike to lift when the front brake is applied? (Like in an endo.) Also, if I were to replicate this effect with a wood block with wheels that crashes against a wall (only the ...
12
votes
9answers
11k views

How do you explain spinning tops to a nine year old?

Why don't spinning tops fall over? (The young scientist version) My nine year old son asked me this very question when playing with his "Battle Strikers" set. Having studied Physics myself, I am very ...
12
votes
5answers
3k views

Is there any friction between wheel and road?

Human beings invented the wheel to get rid of the friction between the wheel and the road. But were we able to reduce it to zero? Is there any residual friction? This question is about only the ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Changing Rotation Direction in Mid Air

Not sure whether this is an appropriate question for this site, but could anyone explain the physics behind how this skier is able to change his direction of rotation mid-air? ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Can a pool ball change direction mid-roll?

In this youtube video, a pool shark consistently gets the cue ball to drastically change direction mid-roll (i.e. while after he's hit it). Is this theoretically possible without using trick balls? If ...
11
votes
4answers
6k views

Why does Venus spin in the opposite direction?

Given: Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum. Reverse spinning with dense atmosphere (92 times > Earth & CO2 dominant sulphur based). Surface same degree of aging all over. Hypothetical large ...
11
votes
2answers
810 views

The secret behind the spinning, asymmetrically weighted, 2D disk-shaped top?

When you spin an asymmetrically weighted, 2D disk-shaped top, the heavy part actually rises to the top. Why is this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0SZZTBQmEs ...
11
votes
3answers
833 views

Which direction will Coriolis forces deflect a bubble?

If I throw a ball straight up, it deflects slightly to the west due to Coriolis forces. If instead I watch a bubble float up in water, is the bubble deflected west, east, or neither? I think the ...
10
votes
5answers
4k views

Why does a ceiling fan start up slowly? [closed]

I think it probably has something to do with the capacitor inside but I don't get it why doesn't it just Start spinning instantly when we push the button why does it slowly start to spin and gradually ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Can a mouse rotating a wheel violate conservation of angular momentum?

I have been thinking on the following problem. Part I. Imagine we have a mouse enclosed in a rigid box. We placed the box on a frictionless surface (ice might be a good example). Can the box start ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Is it possible to produce gravitational waves artificially?

Why don't they make a ball with irregularities, say the size of a tennis ball, then spin it very rapidly, so it would produce gravitational waves like a spinning star with irregularities on it? Is ...
10
votes
1answer
381 views

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Conceptual Questions

Let $M$ be the magnetic moment of a system. Below are the Bloch equations, including the relaxation terms. $$\frac{\partial M_x}{\partial t}=({\bf M} \times \gamma {\bf H_0})_x-\frac{M_x}{T_2} $$ ...
9
votes
4answers
13k views

What determines the direction of precession of a gyroscope?

I understand how torque mathematically causes a change to the direction of angular momentum, thus precessing the gyroscope. However, the direction, either clockwise or counterclockwise, of this ...
9
votes
4answers
4k views

Hamiltonian is conserved, but is not the total mechanical energy

I wondering about the interpretation for the energy difference between the Hamiltonian and the total mechanical energy for systems where the Hamiltonian is conserved, but it is not equal to the total ...
9
votes
7answers
3k views

What is the proof that a force applied on a rigid body will cause it to rotate around its center of mass?

Say I have a rigid body in space. I've read that if I during some short time interval apply a force on the body at some point which is not in line with the center of mass, it would start rotating ...
9
votes
3answers
836 views

How fast do you have to spin an egg to have it standing?

If you take a hardboiled egg and put it on a table and start to spin it, if you spin it fast enough it will start to spin in an upright position. What is the angular velocity needed for this ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

What makes a wrist-energized gyroscope rotate faster?

I'm considering a wrist-energized gyroscope, shown below (after my daughter let it fall and it broke open). That one was sold as Roller Ball, but variants are known as Powerball, DynaBee, Dynaball, ...