Sunday, February 27, 2011

Science Sunday: And The Award Goes To

Jennifer Oulette is, as bloggers go, a bona fide brainiac, a physicist by profession and a writer by choice. And while my interest in the Oscars has faded with the years in large part because the telecast of the annual awards ceremony has become a parody of itself, I look forward to Jennifer's annual Physics Oscars at Cocktail Party Physics while I will skip tonight's primetime orgy of self congratulation.

Jennifer has outdone herself this year in awarding Physics Oscars to the movies Inception (Best Depiction of Equivalence Principle Award), Iron Man 2 (Best Scene With a Particle Accelerator), TRON Legacy (Best Nod to Conservation of Mass), The Black Swan (Best Sports Physics) and True Grit
(Best Equal and Opposite Reaction Award).

Here's a taste:
"There were a couple of cool 'found physics' moments in True Grit. One occurs when Rooster Cogburn makes an impressive shot from a cliff into the valley to save LeBoeuf's Texas Ranger hide: there is a slight delay from when we hear the shot (from our/Cogburn's vantage point) to when the bullet hits its mark. And a few scenes later, Mattie gets off her own rifle shot, except she's not big enough to absorb the recoil action and gets knocked backward something fierce. Rifle recoil is a classic example of conservation of momentum, also known as Newton's Third Law of Motion. If momentum is conserved, then for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is, if one object exerts a force on another for a given amount of time, the second object reacts by exerting an equal but opposite force for the same amount of time. (Rockets work on this principle, too.)"
More here.

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