The Rain-Powered Cart
Journal Article - Open Access
US Naval Academy Annapolis United States
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A frictionless cart in the shape of a right triangle with the vertical side forward is elastically impacted by vertically falling raindrops. The speed of the cart as a function of time can be analytically deduced as an exercise in the use of trigonometric and hyperbolic functions. A characteristic time defines the approach to a terminal speed which is a sizeable fraction of the speed of the rain. The treatment is accessible to a student in a calculus-based mechanics course.