Traveling Along a Zipline
NAVAL ACADEMY ANNAPOLIS MD DEPT OF PHYSICS
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The trajectory of a rider slowly traversing a zipline of fixed length and endpoints is computed, as a one-dimensional illustration of the curving of spacetime by a mass. As the riders weight increases from 0 to 8734, the trajectories uniformly interpolate between a catenary and an ellipse. These results are obtained by balancing forces in the horizontal and vertical directions, so that the treatment is accessible to undergraduate physics majors who have been exposed to finding the numerical roots of an algebraic equation.
- Theoretical Mathematics