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#169 The Sweet Taste of Vengeance

The Sweet Taste of Vengeance
March 7th, 2006

Can the plane take off?

This is a pretty cool physics question: if a plane is trying to take off from some kind of conveyor-belt runway that moves backwards at the same speed as the plane, can it take off? It seems kind of counter-intuitive, but yes, it can. It's because the wheels don't really have anything to do with the forward movement of the plane; they just keep it off the ground. So when the engines are fired up, the plane still moves forward, it's just that the wheels will be spinning twice as fast as they normally would be (due to the conveyor belt).

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