Archive for the ‘Year 7 mathspig’ Category


7. You can safely jump from a burning skyscraper/bridge/aircraft into water.

December 13, 2018

Angels and Demons (2009) Tom Hanks character, Robert Langdon, hero of Dan Brown’s jumps from a helicopter and falls thousands of feet into Rome’s Tiber River and survives, of course.

Ahhhh! Look up. It’s raining Tom Hanks!!!!!The Hulk (2003) The Hulk hops from the Golden Gate bridge onto a jet fighter, whose pilot tries to get rid of him at high altitude. The Hulk falls off and plummets many thousands of feet into the bay. He survives.

There are 2 factors we must consider when jumping or diving from a great height:

1. Surface Impact

2.Water depth 

1. Surface Impact

According to the Free Fall website falling into water is not a good survival strategy. 

‘Someone falling without a parachute from more than 2,000 feet or so would be falling quite a bit faster than 100 miles per hour (161 kph) The folks who have survived falls into water have had streaming parachutes above them, which probably slowed their falls to the 60 mph range (97 kph). Having a streaming parachute helps in another way because it aligns the body in a position where the feet enter the water first.’

The website goes on to explain that water is an INCOMPRESSIBLE FLUID. It’s like landing on concrete. Landing in mud, on snow, on trees, on circus tents etc helps break the fall. Moreover, jumping off a bridge into turbulent sea may be safer than jumping into calm water.

On 24th Oct 1930, Vincent Kelly, 31, while working on the Sydney Harbour Bridge fell 170 ft (52 m) into Sydney Harbour and survived.

A champion diver he did several summersaults and landed feet first. He broke a couple of ribs as he did not enter the water at a perfect RIGHT ANGLE but rather a few degrees off perpendicular..

2. Water Depth

The next issue is, if you are going to dive or jump into water from a great height and, miraculously, survive the impact, how deep should the water  be?

Olympic divers often practice their dives in a bubble pools (like a spa). This reduces the impact for a bad dive but the water must be much deeper. Sports Smart Canada recommends a water depth of double the height of the drop. But is this realistic if, say, you are jumping or diving from the top of a waterfall into aerated water.

You can work out approximate depths needed if you were jumping into calm water from heights such as below:

How deep do you plunge? The answer is surprising because, in fact, you decelerate really fast in water.

See REd Bull Jump Science here

Thanks to Rod Vance  for the Fluid Engineering Calcs (done by hand … not by computer program) for calculating the depth of water when your feet stop moving. That is the minimum depth of water needed for the jump (See graph below)

NOTE: Even with this fancy maths assumptions must be made about the transition epoch-half in/half out of the water.

 Assuming you survive the impact and you breath out through your nose – to stop water going up your nostrils really fast- then you will not go any deeper than approx 4 m or 13 ft from a platform of 20 m (65 ft) or less.

If you’re diving into water from, say, a helicopter as in the Demons & Angels movie you don’t need extremely deep water. Assume Langdon was at 100m (328 ft) or the height of The Statue of Liberty(above) or a 33 story building  when he jumped, then extrapolating the graph (above), maybe, a depth of 5m (16 ft) would do.

If you want to see what looking down from a 58.8 m (193 ft) platform looks like check out thisWorld Record Jump by Laso Schaller.


1. Movie Stunt Math: Rolling a CAR

October 29, 2018

“With enough stupidity you can get any car to roll over” (MSN AUTO)

What stuntmen and women need is maths!

Maths is essential to the process, from calculating speeds and braking distances to looking at the ratio of the amount of film shot to the length of time of the end sequence. The stunt and crash is outlined, and the co-ordinator explains how he must calculate speeds and stopping distances carefully.

So you want to be a stuntman?

First think of the pain.

Mark Eiden, 52, a professional stuntman (pictured) who is not only afraid of heights, but was once told he likely wouldn’t walk again. Eiden’s had surgery on both arms and shoulders, five knee surgeries, six nasal reconstructions, foot and hand surgery and a facial cast. He fell off the top of a stunt car at 40 mph when the tyre blew. He gaffer taped his ear and continued, despite severe concussion. Northern Express Michigan

1 J Mark Eiden Northern Express

If you still want to be a stuntman do the Maths:

Rolling a Car:

You can use quick handbrake turn, speed around a corner, fishtail into the curb or some other lunatic thing. The most controlled way to roll a car is to use a ramp.


These ramps often have a kicker at the end to add extra lift. Ramp calculations can be complicated, but the simplest way to look at the maths is to determine the angle a car will roll ie. When the Centre of Gravity moves over the base.

Centre of Gravity vs Base Width

The distance between the front wheels in cars is often called the track width.

1a Centre of Gravity

2 Stable Couch3 SUV angleBase vs CofG SUVsTable from Accident Reconstruction Website

4 Bus Centre of Gravity

5 Small car centre of gravity

6 Lambogini Diablo Centre of Grvity

So the Lamobgini Diablo is very hard to roll (build a higher ramp) and it therefore beats the SUV for stability every time.

Balancing on 2 Wheels

A more skilled stunt involves driving a car on two wheels. A very skilled stunt driver can lift the car onto wheels by snaking the car back and forth across the road until it balances on 2 wheels.

From the Centre of Gravity vs Base angles above you can see that the SUV is the easiest car to balance of 2 wheels.

But there is nothing quite as crazy as this SUV stunt:

Saudis changing car tyres, just insane.

Picture 1

View full video here.

Safe Driving Info here





Why Math Teachers should, um, speak proper!

October 12, 2018

Students can misunderstand teachers.

If math teachers mumble this is the result:

So I’m helping a Year 7 student. Smart kid. This is her test paper. 

NOTE: Students must hear terms clearly pronounced to learn them.


Simple Equation For Calculating Skyscraper Sway in an Earthquake

October 2, 2018

A major and disasterous earthquake has just hit Indonesia. It is the job of engineers to calculate and incorporate – as far as possible- safety margins into the structures of buildings, dams, power plants and even pipe lines. Observers have noted that the skyscrapers in Fukushima wobbled during the recent 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan.

This is intentional, as rigid structures can snap in strong winds or during earthquakes.

But the maths used to calculate SKYSCRAPER SWAY is straightforward.

The Earthquake Engineering website offers a simple explanation.

Short, rigid buildings are damaged in earthquakes because they shake very fast. 10 story buildings have a period of oscillation of about 1 second the same as the earthquake pulse. This is VERY dangerous.

Tall, flexible buildings can withstand an earthquake because they can sway. They are like a very large, slow moving tuning fork. If they are TOO RIGID they snap. If they are too flexible the people on the 100th floor would be throw all over the place.

The 59-story steel-construction Citicorp Centre, NY (pictured) has an oscillation time of 6.7 seconds. Details Google Books.

The 102-story brick clad Empire State Empire Building sways about 8cm ( 3 inches) whereas the 110-story steel -mesh World Trades Centre Towers, NY, before they collapsed swayed over 1 m ( 3 ft 5 inches).

One more thing. You want buildings to have springy foundations so they don’t snap at the base and fall over.

Earthquake Engineering

The idea is not to strengthen the building, but to reduce the earthquake generated seismic forces acting upon it. This can be done in 3 ways.

1. Base Isolation. Rubber pads or Rollers. Are used so the base does not feel the full shake or jump off foundations.

Details Base Isolation Specialists

2. Shock absorbers or dampers are added to the structure to dissipate the seismic shock.

Details Damper Supplier


3. Active Tuned Mass Dampers use a computer controlled counter moving weight to actively move against the building sway.

The 508m (1,667-foot) Taipei 101 Tower would sway back and forth up to 60cm (2 feet) each way within five seconds. This according to Wired magazine is highly vomit inducing (barfomatic?).

The Taipei 101 engineers included a 662 tonne (730-ton) counter giant pendulum to act as a counter weight.Some buildings use a big block of concrete.

It is pushed in the opposite direction to the building sway to dampen the oscillation.

Earthquake Engineering Maths

Take 1:

Wired magazine includes the equation for Skyscraper Sway acceleration (See definition of terms @ Wired link):

But I’m going to use a student friendly equation from Wind Engineering for Large Structures.

Calculus Equation here.

Mathspigs, you can just look at this equation and see how to change it to make a building EARTHQUAKE SAFE. Keep in mind that k, the stiffness constant actually decreases for taller buildings.

Imagine you are designing a building to withstand the 8.9 magnitude earthquake. You have already added base isolation. Now you have three options to work with: building mass (m), damping constant (c) and stiffness constant (k). Remember the earthquake force is constant. If you change just the stiffness of the building (k) what happens to the distance of sway(x)?

Engineers have to come up with the optimum design for the strongest structure with least acceleration (but enough building mass for strength), greatest damping and least sway at the lowest cost.


How far does the tallest buidling in the world SWAY in an earthquake?

October 2, 2018

Earthquake Engineering Maths

Take 2:

Structural Engineer Ron Klemencic explained on the Discover News that a simple rule of thumb for calculating skyscraper sway was to simply divide the buildings height in by 500 because the building codes demand the building fit a 1:500 sway ratio.

The tallest building in the world at 2,716 feet (828m), the Burj Khalifa, Dubai, would sway back and forth about 5.5 feet or 1.7 m.

Ahhhhhhhhh!  But you would have to drag Mathspig onto the 168th floor screaming.

But mathspigs you can work out the sway on the top ten tall buildings in the world.


Stunning Art based on Maths

September 29, 2018

Adam R McCausland is a Belfast-based graphic designer whose stunning works incorporate maths themes.

Here is his work (below) titled Fibonacci / Poinsettia

This work (below) is titled: At theHeart of it all. I’ve never seen mirrored Fibonacci curve before. Fascinating. 

What fibonacci art can your class make today?

You can find more of Adam’s inspiring maths art works here.


Trick 1: The Great MATHoudini

September 18, 2018

The Great MATHoudini

Requirements: 1 phone book, Great showmanship

Start by handing one member of the class a sealed envelope. It contains a name that you have seen in your mathematical mind.

All will be revealed at the end of the performance.

Ask one student to write a 3-digit number on the board.

Ask a second student to turn this number around and subtract the smallest number from the largest number.

Ask a third student to turn that number around and add the last two numbers.

Example: N1 = 371.

N2 = 173

N1 – N2 = N3 = 371 – 173 = 198

N4 = 891

N4 – N3 = 891 + 198 = 1089

Give a fourth student a phone book. Ask them to go to page 108 and count down 9 places on the first column and read out the name.

Now open the envelope.

Da! Da!


How does it work? The numbers ALWAYS add up to 1089 so you had plenty of time to check out the name in the phone book.

Source: Magic/Menatalism Tips and Tricks