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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Physics - not my bag

I'd say I was the grand old age of eleven before I realised that my talents lay towards the arts rather than the sciences.  However, being at an academic school, the study of Chemistry, Biology and Physics was compulsory right up until GCSEs.  So I studied all three of them until I was almost 17.

Biology I enjoyed.  Chemistry I loathed (I hated its ridiculous terminology - whoever heard of measuring moles?).  Physics was kind of... meh.  I liked my teacher, but I struggled with maths.  But the maths in Physics was easier than the regular maths you did in the classroom, and - on the rare occasion I would get an answer right, I was rewarded with a nice whole, round number.  I can't deny I enjoyed the satisfaction.

So I studied Physics and I did OK at it.  But there are still some fundamental issues that remain with me.  Questions about the universe which I just can't answer.

So.  Physics boffins.  Riddle me this, if you will.

Imagine I am standing holding a lovely shiny handbag.

It's a pretty handbag, but I'm doing a sad face because it's heavy.  It's full of new shoes and my arms are beginning to hurt.  Also, in this drawing, I don't have any hands, which makes it even trickier to hold said handbag.

Because I am married now, and have a man to do all sorts of tasks I can't be bothered with (including, but not limited to holding heavy bags on my behalf), I ask TheBloke (TM) if he will carry me.
He reluctantly agrees, and we progress down Oxford Street at rush hour with me riding him like a pony.  Who says I'm spoiled?

OK.  So TheBloke (TM) now has a sad face because he is not only supporting  my (feather) weight, but he's also carrying the big bag of shoes... OR IS HE?

Here, physics boffins, is my question.  You'll notice MY face is sad too.  Because my arm is still hurting because I am still carrying the bag.  I can still feel the weight of it.  My little handless arms are still hurting.  So surely I must still be taking the weight.  So TheBloke (TM) is only taking my weight, not the weight of the bag too.

At this point (when posed this question) TheBloke (TM) refuses to talk to me anymore, saying I'm an idiot.

Now, in order for my little arms to feel much better, I have proposed a solution, as per the next image.  This way I no longer feel like I'm supporting the weight, and TheBloke (TM) is definitely taking my weight AND the weight of the lovely bag with all the shoes in.

Now, TheBloke (TM) is insistent that he would still be taking the weight of the bag in the second picture, but I do not see how this can be; if my arm still hurts from the weight of the bag, clearly I must be supporting the bag's weight.  Fair enough, TheBloke (TM) is supporting my weight, but surely this can't mean the bag's weight is being supported twice.  That would break all laws of physics (I expect, I don't claim to be an expert), and we all might disappear down some sort of bag-shaped wormhole.

So if we are both supporting the weight of the bag in picture two, then surely picture three must be a more energy efficient way of transporting my big bag of shiny shoes.

Please discuss.

Other than Chemistry, I'd probably say Art was my worst subject.  In case you were wondering.


Cheapthrill said...

I'm not a physics bod but in both #2 and #3 TheOppressed is supporting the same mass.

The difference you are assuming is in some sort of defined measurement of work.

In both pics TheOppressed is doing the same amount of work in supporting the mass. In #2 you are doing redundant work in supporting the mass that TheOppressed is also supporting.

Tell him #3 will be more efficient, it will appeal to his assumed masculine sense of engineering.

Laura said...

Thank you!

L x