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91

There are plenty of satellite galaxies orbiting larger galaxies. The question is how long are you willing to wait for an orbit? The Milky Way has a mass $M$ of something like $6\times10^{11}$ solar masses, or $10^{42}\ \mathrm{kg}$. The small Magellanic Cloud is at a distance $R$ of $2\times10^5$ light years, or $2\times10^{21}\ \mathrm{m}$. A test mass ...


71

In comparing wheels of today to those in history, there are traditionally more spokes now. However, that's because wheels in the past (even large wagon wheels in not-so-ancient times) used relatively thick wooden spokes that behaved like a column and dealt with the load of the wheel with compression. However, modern spokes are very thin. Far too thin to ...


69

The Foucault pendulum is a great experiment which does demonstrate that the Earth is rotating, but it was only introduced in 1851. The Earth had been known to rotate for several centuries before that, probably stimulated by Copernicus and Galileo pushing the heliocentric model of the solar system during the 16th century. A couple of decades before Faucalt's ...


69

The astronaut can change his or her orientation in the same way that a cat does so whilst falling through the air. After the transformation, the astronaut is still and angular momentum is conserved. There is a rather beautiful way of understanding this rotation as an anholonomy i.e. a nontrivial transformation wrought by the parallel transport of the cat's ...


59

No, a car cannot steer on a frictionless surface. This has little to do with gyroscopic action and more to do with conservation of momentum: to turn, even when conserving its speed, the car needs to accelerate at right angles to its motion, which changes the total momentum of the motion. This change in momentum requires a force which, in normal roads, is ...


54

Foucault pendulum. I don't know how the ancients did it, but it is surely pure classical mechanics. The animation describes the motion of a Foucault Pendulum at a latitude of 30°N.


52

Your intuition about spinning fluids is wrong for a couple reasons. Angular momentum is conserved so an isolated system of any shape will keep on spinning unless it has a way to transfer that momentum elsewhere. If you spun in egg levitating in a vacuum it would spin forever. The more bumps, flaws, or non-spherical features your container has the faster ...


48

If the wheels had spun fast enough for a gyroscopic effect to become noticeable, the only result on a frictionless surface (which would be the same without a surface at all) is that when you turn the wheels, the rest of the car would rotate instead of just the front wheels :) You need some reaction force to alter the trajectory, like a sail or surface ...


47

I'm going to assume the bottom end of the rod is fixed, so the rod rotates around it. I think this is what you have in mind - shout if it isn't. So at some point during its fall the rod looks like: The mass of the rod is $m$ and the mass oif the weight on the end is $M$, and I've drawn in the forces due to gravity. To write down the equation of motion ...


41

It depends on where on Mars you toss the coin, and how high you toss it. In a rotating frame of reference, an object in motion appears to be affected by a pair of fictitious forces - the centrifugal force, and the Coriolis force. Their magnitude is given by $$\mathbf{\vec{F_{centrifugal}}}=m\mathbf{\vec\omega\times(\vec\omega\times\vec{r})}\\ ...


38

For those that are cat-challenged, here's an alternative explanation and demonstration you can try at home! This demonstration was taught to me by my math lecturer. All you will need is: A swivel chair and a heavy object (e.g. a big textbook) Stand on the seat of the chair (watch your balance now) holding the heavy object. Extend your arms forward ...


35

The error is that you assume that the density distribution is "nearly spherically symmetric". It's far enough from spherical symmetry if you want to calculate first-order subleading effects such as the equatorial bulge. If your goal is to compute the deviations of the sea level away from the spherical symmetry (to the first order), it is inconsistent to ...


33

It is because the moment of inertia is not a conserved quantity. The statement that an isolated body can't change its position is more precisely the statement that an isolated body cannot change the position of its centre of mass. The position of the centre of mass, ${\bf R}$, is given by: $$ {\bf R} = \frac{1}{M}\sum m_i {\bf r}_i $$ where $M$ is the ...


32

It's a classical mechanics effect for sure although a really interesting one. Following links on "Dzhanibekov effect" one gets at Marsden and Ratiu's "Introduction to Mechanics and Symmetry" Chapter 15 Section 15.9 "Rigid Body Stability" treating this with use of the Casimir functions. From remark 1: A rigid body tossed about its middle axis will undergo an ...


28

The reason is that you have a boundary layer on the surface of the blade of the fan. On the frame of the blade (the blade moves with some velocity, but at the frame of the blade the air moves) the boundary layer starts from the surface of the blade where the fluids velocity is zero and as you move away from the blade, the velocity increases up to the value ...


27

They do! There's an entire class of galaxy, called a 'satellite galaxy' which is defined entirely based on them orbiting a larger galaxy (which would be called a 'central galaxy'). Our own milky-way is known to have many orbiting satellite galaxies, or at least 'dwarf-galaxies'. If dwarf-galaxies aren't enough, the milky-way itself is gravitationally ...


26

Yes you can It is actually possible with a real car, but you would have to be very patient to steer a little bit. Suppose you have built a car with power on the big front wheels to induce a gyroscopic effect. If you rotate the wheels, the direction in which the center of mass is going will not change directly, but the angle in which the rest of the body ...


25

The Wikipedia article you linked states: Atomic clocks show that a modern day is longer by about 1.7 milliseconds than a century ago If we take this change of 1.7 ms/century and multiply by 2.5 million centuries (250 million years) then we get a change of 4,250 seconds or 1.18 hours. So 250 million years ago the day length would have been 22.82 hours. ...


25

As many others point out, there is friction present, otherwise the wheel wouldn't grap the surface and pull the car forward. But you are talking about a different kind of friction. There is a possibility of different kinds of friction: Kinetic friction, if the wheel ever slides and skids over the asphalt. This is friction between objects that slide over ...


24

It would work in a vacuum, so I'll simplify by assuming no air resistance. When the ball is hit, it spins in a certain direction, for example to hit the ball so that it would follow this path: requires the ball to be hit along the red arrow, but spinning in the direction of the blue arrow: The red arrow here is pointing the same way as the initial ...


24

In start-up and hover each blade produces more or less constant sound. But the sound is attenuated by distance and may not be the same in all directions. Therefore you hear it differently depending on the blade's position relative to you. So as the blades rotate, the sound you hear pulsates because the blades alternately get to positions where you hear them ...


23

In this case, gravity is still an external force. In a zero-g environment, the mouse would also begin to move around the inside of the wheel, opposite the rotation it causes in the wheel, which would keep the angular momentum at zero. This would happen because the only way for the mouse to exert a force on the wheel and rotate it is for it to push itself in ...


21

The surprising answer is that the stability of the modern bicycle has little or nothing to do with centrifugal force or gyroscopes or any of that. Look up "bicycle stability" on Google. Experiments show that the sloped angle of the front fork is very important, e.g. If the fork pointed backwards it is very difficult to stay upright at any speed. At ...


21

The fan motor provides a torque $\tau$ which has to accelerate $\alpha$ the fan blades whose moment of inertia is $I$: $$\tau=I\alpha$$ Given how long it takes for the fan blades to stop the frictional torques must be fairly low and so the torque applied by the motor to keep them going must also be low. With the relatively small torque rating, even if the ...


20

Your explanation is right: an earthquake can't change the axis of rotation, relative to a given inertial reference frame -- that is, the axis of rotation doesn't change relative to the "fixed stars" as a result of the earthquake. What the earthquake does is to move material around within the Earth, so that the position of the rotation axis relative to any ...


20

Angular momentum doesn't change, but the angular velocity vector does. This is effectively due to a shift in the body's moment of inertia tensor.


19

A report appeared in Science today which addresses this exact question: Kooijman et al., Science 332 (6027): 339-342, "A Bicycle Can Be Self-Stable Without Gyroscopic or Caster Effects." The abstract reads: A riderless bicycle can automatically steer itself so as to recover from falls. The common view is that this self-steering is caused by gyroscopic ...


19

What about this hypothesis: Dust sticks everywhere, but since the propeller cuts through a lot of air, it meets more dust particles. Thus, more dust sticks to the propeller than elsewhere. Evidence I (Mark) took photos my the fan my room to support Damien's hypothesis. The first photo is of the leading edge of the fan blade, which impacts a lot of air, ...


19

The rectangular prism is a rigid body. The equations of motion of a rigid body around its center of mass are given by: (Please, see for example: Marsden and Ratiu , (page 6). $$I_1\dot\Omega_1=(I_2-I_3)\Omega_2\Omega_3$$ $$I_2\dot\Omega_2=(I_3-I_1)\Omega_3\Omega_1$$ $$I_3\dot\Omega_3=(I_1-I_2)\Omega_1\Omega_2$$ Where $\Omega_1,_2,_3$ are the angular ...


18

Well, the angular momentum conservation is still the essence although it may be formulated in a different language. The top is spinning around a vertical axis and the spinning around this axis can't disappear. if the top decided to fall, the spinning would either disappear or would be replaced by a totally different spinning around a horizontal axis, and ...



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