## Thursday, February 21, 2008

### What Can Be Accomplished With Physics?

Yesterday at 10:26 the military launched a missile bound for a renegade satellite. By 10:50 the satellite was confirmed destroyed 153 nautical miles above the earths atmosphere. Below is the video.

So here's the problem. A modified Goldstein central force problem: Assume you have a 1/r^2 central force law. Assume you have an object in orbit 153 miles above the the surface of the earth. Calculate the orbit of the satellite. Calculate the equation of motion of a missile launched to the northwest of Hawaii such that, including wind resistance and the fact that the mass of the missile changes as it losses fuel, the missile collides with the satellite in such a position that the debris from the collision will land in the ocean. Remember, the central force acts on the missile as well.

The amazing thing is this physics problem has been solved and this video is experimental evidence the theory checks out. You know, if it wasn't for physics we might have renegade satellites zooming around space just waiting to enter our atmosphere an come crashing don on someone's car or something.

And for all you Dave Matthews fans I have also posted their video "Satellite." They are from Charlottesville, Virginia where I went to High School so I have to be a fan.

#### 1 comment:

1. "You know, if it wasn't for physics we might have renegade satellites zooming around space just waiting to enter our atmosphere an come crashing don on someone's car or something." Well, without physics, I doubt we'd be able to get the satellites up there in the first place or design the cars (at least modern cars as we know them today -- Henry Ford didn't need much physics, but the 2008 models certainly do) for anything to fall on.

Bill