Monday, June 22, 2015

Mythbusters, Indiana Jones, and Math.

Petra, Jordan, Indiana Jones, MovieI love watching Mythbusters because they show so many practical applications of science and math in real life.  They do not always show the exact math they are using but in the episode focusing on things Indiana Jones did with the whip, they took time to show the actual math for two of the stunts.

One question they examined had to do with the idea that Indiana Jones used the whip to cross a ravine by causing the edge to wind around a tree branch.

Travel, Undertaking, Adventure, Heading To calculate the length of a jump Adam could make safely, they used markings on the ground for distance, then using a high speed camera, they recorded his jump on film.  By putting marks on the film above every mark they were able to create a parabola and calculate the distance he needed for his "ravine."

Up until they added some "bark" to the "tree branch" Adam could not use the whip because the whip had absolutely nothing to "hold" onto and he would continually fall.  Once the "bark" was added, the whip held and Adam could swing across the ravine as many times as he wanted without falling.

Break, Donkey, TreasuryThe second use of math was showing how they calculated the speed of the tip of a whip.  The question simply was "Can the tip of a whip go faster than the speed of sound.  Again they used the high speed camera, lots of swearing as they tried to find the whip motion and once they got it on film, they showed how they calculated the speed.

It was cool.  I want to show that episode in my math class so they can see how math can be used in real life.