Section 1

Clayton Allen

My Ride To Work Is More Scientific Than Yours

     So how many wheels does it take you to get to work? Rain or shine; night or day, it only takes me two wheels. Since I started learning to ride a motorcycle I discovered there is significantly more science involved when it comes to operating a motorcycle as opposed to a car. Make no mistake; a car does indeed have some scientific principles to it. A motorcycle however, has a whole lot more.

Here is an interesting concept to get us started, motorcycles can stay vertical (straight up-and-down) on their own. This is true only when the motorcycle is traveling at certain speeds. Generally the common motorcycle tire has a rounded contact patch meaning the tires are rounded instead of flat like the tires commonly found on cars. So at a dead stop the bike would simply fall over (which is very bad by the way). As the wheels of the motorcycle go round-and-round they create a rotating mass. As rotating mass goes faster and faster more force (also referred to as torque) is needed to change the direction of its rotation. So if you examine a motorcycle in motion, unless the motorcycle is leaning in one direction or another the wheels are rotating in a vertical direction. The rotating mass of the two wheels is enough to keep the moving motorcycle vertical (Hackworth). Another way to keep the motorcycle vertical at all times would be to install a twelve inch wide tide tire like the ones on a Corvette on the front and back of the motorcycle. But this would reduce stability while turning (and look incredibly funny at the same time) and make the motorcycle good for driving in a straight line only.

Want to know a cool way to feel rotating mass for yourself? Take a bicycle wheel and hold each side of the axle in both hands. Now have a friend spin the wheel as fast as they can while you hold it. As the wheel spins change the vertical angle of the wheel. You will feel the rotating mass of the wheel offer resistance as you apply a change in the direction of the rotating mass. This is also referred to as force or torque. At this time, it’s okay to admit that was a pretty cool miniature science experiment.

Aside from how incredibly therapeutic it can be to operate a motorcycle, there are some interesting physics behind my daily commute. I am more specifically referring to the physics involved in turning a motorcycle. Some of the physics involved almost seem counter intuitive. For example, in a car if you wanted to steer your car left you would turn the steering wheel to the left. On a motorcycle this isn’t exactly the case. If I am traveling slow enough; for example moving my motorcycle around the driveway in the front of my house, I can use the same principle of steering a car uses (right for right – left for left). At higher speeds the story now changes to using quite the opposite mentality (right for left – left for right). The technique I am referring to is called “counter-steering” (Hackworth).

Okay, ready for yet another cool miniature science experiment? I thought so. Clear off enough space on your desk for both hands. Now take the side of your left hand and place it on the desk with your left thumb pointed straight up and your fingers straight (Act like your going to Ninja chop your desk). Now take the side of your right hand and place it directly in front of your left. Okay this is the same principle, as motorcycles trust me. For the first part of our experiment we are going to pretend like our “Hand-Harley” needs to turn left. Try turning the direction of your right hand and fingers to the left (making almost a 45 degree angle), and then lean both hands to the left. You will notice that it seems impossible to lean your “Hand-Harley” to the left, which prevents you from taking a left turn around your physics homework. Now this time turn the right hand and fingers to the right (making almost a 45 degree angle) and lean both hands to the left. You should notice that now the “Hand-Harley” will lean to the left and you’ve safely turned left around your physics homework (good job!).

What essentially just did was recreate using force or torque to manipulate the rotating mass of the “Hand-Harley” allowing us lean the motorcycle and generate cambered thrust (Hackworth). Now stay with me because I am getting the punch line of a motorcycle actually turns.

Remember when I mentioned putting a Corvette tire on the front and back of the motorcycle? Okay now picture a motorcycle with two really wide Corvette tires trying to turn. There is a ton of rotating mass in effect here but the problem is the Corvette tires have a very flat shape and more than likely not want to lean to one side or the other easily. Even if they did, at this point you be riding on the sidewall of the tires instead of the tread (the part intended for touching the ground). Essentially, you could turn this motorcycle just like a car, but good luck staying on it during sharp turns.

Like I mentioned earlier motorcycle tire are rounded instead of flat. This means that even if you are leaning in either direction during a turn the contact patch is still as good as if you are in the vertical position. This means, not sacrificing grip, which keeps you from flying of the road. So in essence the center most part of the motorcycle tires are farther away from the rotating axis than the very edge of the tread on the right or left sides. This creates what is known as the “cone-effect” (Hackworth).

This leads us to our last miniature science project. Take a cone shaped object like and ice-cream cone or the cone shaped part of your pen and place its side on your desk. Now push it. The cone should travel in a circular motion with the narrowest part of the cone staying in the center. This is essentially what happens to the physics involved in turning the motorcycle

So there you have it folks, I have taken the coolest form of transportation and turned into an episode of “Bill Nye, The Science Guy”. Now get out there and ride a real motorcycle, be sure to where a helmet.

Works Cited

Hackworth, M. (n.d.). The Physics of Motorcyles. Retrieved 04 27, 2013, from Motorcycle Jazz:

Section 2

Natasha “Tasha” Combs

Physics and the Euthanasia Rollercoaster

Rollercoasters gained their popularity purely for entertainment. From ice slides to scenic train routes to complex rides at major amusement parks, they were made to give its passengers a beautiful view while safely giving them a sensation of fear and excitement. There is a rollercoaster, although, that was designed to not only give it’s passengers a joyful thrill, but to end their lives as well. This coaster, named the Euthanasia Coaster, used physics in order to achieve this suffocating kill machine.

Euthanasia Rollercoaster, with a 7,544 meter track length, begins with a 2-minute scenic lift to reach a 510-meter apex. The slow, smooth ride helps them adapt to the height and gives them plenty of time to reflect on their past. Most importantly, this time lets them contemplate their choice to commit suicide before they relax and push the button to continue. When pushed, the train will drop 500 meters for 10 seconds. At this point, the train will be moving at 360 kilometers per hour almost reaching it’s terminal velocity. A Peregrine Falcon, renowned for being the fastest member of the animal kingdom, dives an average of this speed when diving for its prey. If you’re feeling nauseous already, the ride isn’t over. The track then flattens and speeds into the first of its seven inversions. Each loop has a smaller diameter than the one before it. This keeps a constant 10g to the passengers while the speed decreases. After about 3 minutes, the train then turns right 180 degrees to a managing station. The corpses can then be unloaded and the new passengers can board.

The few surviving passengers will then take a – gotcha! This ride is, actually, virtually impossible to survive. Even the best-trained pilots who are accustomed to extreme g-force conditions will die before going into the third loop. The seven loops keep 10g on the passenger for 60 full seconds. This causes a loss of oxygen to the brain, or medically known as cerebral hypoxia. The symptoms related to this extreme g-force exposure begin with a grey-out, or a loss of vision similar to the dimming of light and color through tunnel vision.  You then lose your hearing and vision completely  and your body becomes numb to reach a peaceful state. A g-force induced loss of consciousness, called G-LOC, occurs and vivid dreams begin. Cerebral anoxia then takes place, which is when the brain is completely deprived of oxygen, and you die. The additional loops serve as insurance, for impossibly bizarre situations, that there wouldn’t be any unintentional survivors because the effect on the passenger’s body would be traumatic to anyone who witnessed.

This rollercoaster, created by Julijonas Urbonas, was only made into a 1:1000 scale prototype. While other rollercoaster designers use physics to create a safe and smooth experience, Urbonas used potential energy and kinetic energy along with various formulas in order to achieve the right speed, dimensions, and duration of the ride for the passengers to reach death in the most pleasant way.

The most desirable way to die for most people is to unknowingly pass in your sleep, but if this Euthanasia Coaster were an option, which would you choose?

Please watch this short 3-minute video to see the scaled model:


Doctorow, Cory. (2011). Euthanasia Coaster: Assisted Suicide by Thrills. BoingBoing.

Retrieved from

Dmitry. (2011). Euthanasia Coaster. DesignYouTrust.

Retrieved from

Enchelmeyer, Amy. (2011). Suicide by Roller Coaster. Discovery.

Retrieved from

Urbonas, Julijonas. (2011). Euthanasia Coaster. JulijonasUrbonas.

Retrieved from

Section 3

Kevin Griffith

Physics in Games

When I first decided to come to Full Sail I debated whether or not to go into the programming side of computer animation or the art side. Had I taken this class prior and know more about physics I wouldn’t have been so hesitant in my consideration. That and programmers, an average, get paid about twenty thousand more a year.

I chose the art side of the industry because I’m more visual than technical. As a web designer currently, I know what it’s like to start at code all day and it can be draining. But the allure of creating, what would be nature laws and phenomena’s in real life, in a digital realm is still there. Imagine having to write the coded properties of the physics of fire. How it burns, propagates, migrates and dies out. Being the person that writes the code for gravity, weight and run speeds that players are going to be bound by as they take control of a world you created. With the inclusion of artificial intelligence for non-playable characters this is as close as playing God as one can get.

According to Arnason, Pong started physics in videogames back in 1972.  There’s still a debate on whether this was the first video game ever made but it’s a basic example of potential and kinetic energy in motion. I remember when I was younger playing games and shooting the enemy and knowing that my bullets rarely ever missed. I found out later that it wasn’t my skill it was that there were, at that time, no actual projectiles being launched from weapons. It was a simple algorithm that calculated a hit or miss. Now coders actually have to write in projectiles with varying weights, velocity, speed, and gravitational factors so my bullets now act as closely as they would in real life.

It would be impossible in this day and age to sell a video game that didn’t utilize physics in some way. It’s an unspoken, unseen law of how we interact and view things in an interactive space. Even something as simple as Pac-Man with random and predetermined paths for the ghost had to add in acceleration and potential energies every time Pac-Man ate an “energizer” then ran around eating ghosts and their eyes ran back to the safe area.

My favorite example of physics in a game is a mode in Saint’s Row called Insurance Fraud. Basically the game allows you to be a ragdoll and throw yourself in front of cars with the gravity settings turned down a bit for hilarious results (and money). Havok is a company that most videogame companies use to create these types of physics on people. They have been around for over a decade and are quietly responsible for what happens to a body once it’s been shot and killed, exploded or even thrown out a window. If you need a physics engine Havok is the most trusted.

Collision and ragdoll physics are the main two I have been talking about here but thee are so many other factors that go into delivering a working world in a video game. Things like particle effects that emulate water, gases and fire, deformation physics that allow objects to break and bend realistically and soft body physics along with that that allow for the transfer of kinetic energies to move and move through an object. It is safe to say and very obvious if you know what to look for that physics plays a major role in the video game scene and isn’t going anywhere.

References:, Average 2012 US Dev Salary, Eddie Makuch

Evolution of Physics in Video Games, Bjarni Por Arnason, Understanding Pac-Man Ghost Behavior, Chad Birch

Section 4

Angel “Angel” Williams

Ever wonder how the mind perceived 3D motion.   Begin able to perceive 3D motion is critical in today’s world and is definitely needed when watching those 3 dimensional movies.  Now that I have done some research I found out some very interesting things.   There has been some test to determine how the mind perceived 3d motion, and because of the test neuroscientist have realized that they have overlooked a part of the brain that they have studied over and over again. They figured this out by using a specially developed computer display and an functional magnetic resonance imaging machine to scan the brain.

By using the FMRI they found that behind the left an right ear is where the processing for the 3-D motion occurs. This is an area in which was thought to be only responsible for the processing of two-dimensional motion.  This area is better known as the Middle Temporal area or MT.   Much has already been studying about the MT but never to a point to where they are now in knowing that 3-D motion takes place there as well. The study that was conducted involved people having to watch 3-D visualizations while lying motionless for one or two hours.  They actually had to lay in an MRI scanner that was fitted with a customized projection system.

What was revealed once all the information was collected neuroscientist found that the MT area had very intense neural activity. The intense activity would come when objects moving toward or away from the participants eyes.  What was seen on the FMRI were colorized images of the activity going on in the participants brain. The Mt area would be a bright blue color. The test also showed how the Middle Temporal area actually processed 3-D motion. What the MT does is it simultaneously encodes two types of cues coming from the moving objects.  Have you ever realized what happens when you close your left eye and the right eye back and fourth?? The objects you are looking at appear to jump back and fourth. This happens due to what is known as Binocular disparity.  Binocular disparity is the mismatch between what the left and the right eyes see.  When an object moves the brain calculate the changes in this mismatch over time.

At the same time an object that is speeding directly toward the eyes you will notice that the eyes will move across the left eyes retina from right to left and the right eyes retina from left to right.   What the brain is doing is using both of these ways to help the viewer to perceive 3-D motion.  The brain basically sees the change in position and opposite motions one both eyes. Its very neat how it all comes together in the end.

I thought this was interesting to know and that it connected into what I want to do so its good to know these type of things.  To be able to know how the brain functions is an amazing thing.


Austin, Texas. (2009, July 21) Brains Center for Perceiving 3D Motion Is Identified.

Section 5

Angela “Ang” Ramirez

Physics and the Video Game World


When you think of video games, you typically won’t immediately start thinking about physics and how they work in them. Typically when I think of “physics” I think of motion and not everything else it entails. In our world, physics is everything, from light, gravity, to sound. The same physics can be applied to a world that isn’t our own and within a computer or gaming console. Even a game like Pong used physics, though it was on a very simple level. These days, as games are getting more and more advanced, it enables game developers to create games that offer an even more realistic experience.


Unlike back when Pong released, we now have physics engines such as Havok and the Math engines that help bring real life physics into the virtual world. Without these, we would be running through walls or even floating above the ground instead of having our virtual feet planted firmly on our polygonal ground. Many companies use their own custom-built physics engine’s yet that can cause many problems. In my own experience while playing the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, I would walk into a room and every single object within it would literally fly every which way in the room, as if I released a grand Jedi force push that made everything go flying. Oblivion’s physics were created via the Havok engine so even the top of the line physics engine’s are not immune to bugs present within the game.


When playing Grand Theft Auto IV, I found myself completely amused by everything that would happen within the world. The fact I would go flying through my windshield when I crashed head-first into another car made me laugh and it brought a whole new level of fun at the expense of poor Niko Bellic. The engine that let this be possible was the Bullet Physics Library created by Erwin Coumans. It even allowed a poor policeman’s hand to get stuck in a door from a car I had stolen where I then dragged him along for at least a yard. Adding that level of realism immerses you so much more into the game that you can tend to lose yourself in it.

Physics is also used for lighting (called Optics in physics) in games. They use Optics to figure out how a scene in a game might look when lit up. They can figure out what angles glassy surfaces might reflect at, how it would bend on water, and whether or not surfaces will reflect off each other and to what degree. Optics also lets them figure out what parts and surfaces are intensely lit and how different textures and materials absorb or even give off light. This helps them to be able to show off different objects with supposed different textures such as a smooth or grungy surface.


When it comes to movement, or Kinetics, game developers can now take into account, the air resistance, gravity and even the impact from bullets. In Guild Wars 2, the simple moving of the characters is taken in to account. The larger beings called the Norn, seem to run very slowly as they are much larger, while the smaller creatures called Asura seem to run extremely fast. It is all a trick to our eyes, the Norn and Asura run at the same speed just they look like they’re moving at different ones.


Many sciences go into making games when you really think hard about it, which I really don’t like to do, I just want to use my mind to create and utilize what I know as common sense to make something explode in a certain way or make sure I’m not floating in mid air or making every object in the room seem to explode. We all know our favorite games’ bugs and oddly enough we typically find humor in them as we know that wouldn’t happen in reality, just like we wouldn’t be able to turn a corner at 200mph in a car yet the developers let us do that so we can escape reality, which is what the majority of us playing games want to do in the first place.

Guild Wars 2 (c) ArenaNet/NCSoft

Grand Theft Auto IV (c) Rockstar Games

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (c) Bethesda Game Studios

Section 6

Andrew Stombaugh

There are many topics in the realm of physics that draw debate about their feasibility or actuality, but no topic intrigues me quite as much as the topic of time-travel. Since starting Fundamentals of Physics, my interest in the topic has grown much deeper and has lead me to research more on my own as to how – or if – such an innovation is possible. While there is plenty of science journals to back their research of being for or against time travel, I’d prefer to call upon modern filmography to see how scientists and artists alike view the concept of time travel as this may help make the topic seem more realistic or even show that maybe our belief of what time travel represents has been warped by science fiction.


For now, let us study a recent example of some “groundbreaking” time-travel related material. In this article for the National Geographic, writer Ker Than covers Iranian scientist Ali Razeqi’s discovery of a way to see into the future. Not traveling through time as Marty McFly did, but rather bringing the future to the user. The idea behind this machine does defy the known laws of physics as they pertain to time travel, but it also lends itself to a discussion about how we could, if at all, successfully travel through time.


While it is not entirely likely that we will ever be able to bring the future to us, given that the future has yet to be created, it is actually possible to travel into the future to some degree. In the article, theoretical physicist Thomas Roman explains how this is possible. By traveling faster than the speed of light or by orbiting the black hole at the center of our galaxy, we can effectively slow our time in relation to the time of those on Earth. This idea of time being relative is one that Einstein studied endlessly and is ultimately one of the biggest factors to consider when discussing time travel.


However, traveling to the past is an entirely new monster to deal with, one sizeable enough that there are only several thousand theories on how to pull off such a feat. There is one particular concept that I would like to focus on to narrow down the (un)likeliness of this subject – the effects the traveler has on his or her current, past, and future times as well as all of the people he/she has ever encountered. This is about the time where I lose any and all ambitions that could ever lead me to believe time travel – in the theory that we as a culture perceive it to be – is or could ever be possible.


In J.J. Abrams previous adaptation of Star Trek, the topic of time travel comes up as a Romulan by the name of Nero attempts to travel back to the past to gain vengeance against his adversary, Spock, by destroying his home planet and thus causing Spock to cease to exist. This is where things become confusing, as Nero’s home planet of Romulus has already been destroyed and going back in time to destroy Spock’s home planet of Vulcan would effectively change the future, or current the current time period within the movie. If Nero does manage to make it back to the past and destroy Vulcan, what effect does this have on the inhabitants of the planet as well as those who have visited or known a Vulcan? What of Spock? Does he simply vanish from his current timeline as a result of the changing of his past?


How is it that the realities of billions of individuals could suddenly change – or in the case of the Vulcans, disappear – in the moment following Nero’s successful destruction of Vulcan? We cannot simply travel back in time and make a modification to the fabric of time without these changes having a profound effect on everyone’s reality and history.  Suddenly, Spock and the entire population of Vulcan no longer exist, but the timeline never stops. Now we’ve encountered the issue of how these changes occur. Does Vulcan suddenly disappear from space? Does it slowly vanish along with all of its past and current inhabitants and fade from existence? Either way, all of these changes cannot occur without the realities of unrelated individuals changing, even to a less dramatic degree.


However, if the universe does in fact branch off into rivers of time, how do we know which river we’re currently in? Perhaps we exist in multiple rivers and these changes only occur to us in one particular river. If I travel back in time to meet my future mother and end up forgetting my iPhone on the counter of a local bar, what happens to the phone? Does it now exist in two timelines or just in the past timeline? Could someone end up playing Angry Birds before it ever existed in our current time? These sort of paradoxes are what make the legitimacy of time travel seem so skewed and are only harder to understand as a reality after watching several years worth of filmography where the laws of physics have no reason to define any feasible solutions. In science fiction, an aspect of creativity that has firm roots within our culture, anything is possible.


I find it hard to discuss this topic without raising more questions than answers. However, I suppose if this weren’t true I would not have as much interest in learning more on the concept of time travel outside of my Fundamentals of Physics class. What makes physics so intriguing to me is not the study of the known, but rather the unknown and sometimes even the theoretically impossible. As an artist and an aspiring Computer Animator, I understand that using a balanced mix of both known and unknown is key to creating a convincing yet mesmerizing universe for my viewers, as so many great artists have done before me.



Ker Than (2013). Iranian Scientist Claims to Have Built “Time Machine”. Retrieved April 27, 2013 from