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Physics Questions Blog
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Honors inertia blog

Please answer the questions below by responding to the blog, and then comment on at least 1 other student's answer.


1) A passenger sitting in the rear of a bus claims that she was injured as the driver slammed on the brakes, causing a suitcase to come flying toward her from the front of the bus. If you were the judge in this case, what disposition would you make? Why?

 2)Whiplash sometimes results from an automobile accident when the victim's car is struck violently from the rear. Explain why the head of the victim seems to be thrown backward in this situation. Is it really?

Posted by georgecelona at 3:23 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 4:08 PM EDT

Name: "Joe Duffy"

1. Well, if the bus driver had to slam on the brakes, then it was probably for good reason, like to prevent a crash or keep other people on the bus safe. It is not the drivers fault that the suitcase was not secure. Since the suitcase was not secure it continued moving even though the bus had stopped because of the law of inertia. The suitcase could not stop because it was not acted upon by another force.

2. The head of a victim is "thrown" backward because it is at rest and then the car is struck from behind causing the car to move forward a bit while your head remains still so it looks like your head was thrown backward violently.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 4:17 PM EDT

Name: "Meredith Withelder"

1) A moving bus and everything inside it will have forward momentum so that when the bus stops abruptly, objects inside it will continue forward momentum until confronted by some other force that stops them.  In this case, the woman making this claim has it backwards.  For the suitcase to hit her from the front of the bus, the bus would have had to accelerated quickly rather than stopped quickly.  The latter would result in a suitcase flying toward her from the back of the bus.

2) Whiplash is considered to occur while the car gets quickly accelerated after moving at a constant rate or being at rest.  Because the passengers are moving at the same rate as the car upon impact, the actual vehicle gets rammed ahead while the passenger wants to keep moving at the same speed.  This motion of the car moving more quickly than the passengers head will make it seem as though the person's head moved backwards.  

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 4:21 PM EDT

Name: "Meredith Withelder"

I disagree with Joe on this first part only because the woman said the suitcase traveled backward from the front which doesn't make sense (see my explanation). But I agree with Joe on his second answer. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 5:20 PM EDT

Name: "Val Broussard "

1.) I think if I were the judge I would side with the bus driver. The reason is because the woman's story seems wrong. I'm not quite sure that the suitcase would have hit her from the front of the bus. There is the possibilty however that it hit her from the back because when the bus stoped all of the objects within were still moving forward because of their inertia. 

2.) Whiplash seems to throw a person's head backward because when a car is struck from behind the person inside is at rest and the car moves forward. The person's head however stays still because of its inertia so it is more like the seat hitting the person than the person being thrown backwards. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 5:22 PM EDT

Name: "Val Broussard"

Meredith- I agree with what you said on both of the questions. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 6:03 PM EDT

Name: "Allison Davis "

1) If I was the judge in this case, I would rule in favor of the driver. When the driver slammed on the brakes, the suitcase would continue to move forward at the same speed due to inertia. Since the woman claims that the suitcase came flying from the front of the bus to the rear, it seems that she is lying because that is not possible.

 2) The head of the victim seems to be thrown backwards because the car is jerked forward, while the victim's head remains at rest because of inertia. Although it seems that the victim's head is thrown backwards, it is actually staying still while the car moves forward.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 6:11 PM EDT

Name: "Allison Davis "

I think Meredith's answer to question #2 is more accurate than mine because this situation applies when the car (and the passenger) are moving at a constant rate, too, not just when they are at rest.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 6:32 PM EDT

Name: "Kevin Doc"

1)  If the passenger was in the rear of the bus, and the driver slammed on the brakes, the suitcase could not have hit her.  If the driver braked hard, the suitcase would continue its motion until acted on by another force.  This force could not have been the woman, because the suitcase was traveling towards the front of the bus, not the back.

 2)  If a car is in motion, then the person/people in that car are also in motion at that same speed.  If a car is hit from behind, then the car gets acted upon, not the people in the car.  Thats why the car gets jolted forward, but it's passengers do not.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 6:33 PM EDT

Name: "Steph Capoferri"

1. If the driver slammed on the breaks, the person and the suitcase would have flown forward. Therefore the suitcase couldn't have moved backwards and hit the woman. For the suitcase to hit her the bus would have to of accelerated very quickly and then it could have struck her.

2. People can get wiplash when their car is hit from behind because while the car is moving the person is moving with it, but when its struck, the car jolts forward and the presons head stays due to its inertia and it feels as though their head has been whipped backwards.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 6:35 PM EDT

Name: "Steph Capoferri"

I agree with Meredith's comment. She explained everything very well and I don't see anything I disagree on.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 6:37 PM EDT

Name: "anonymous"

I disagree with Joe's answer to question 1.  It seems as if Joe was describing the case as if the woman got hit from behind.  Maybe he just got mixed up with his law of inertia.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 6:37 PM EDT

Name: "Kevin Doc"

That last one was mine, sorry.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 8:42 PM EDT

Name: "Rob Vucelich"

1. The womens story seems unlikely. If the bus were to slam on the brakes the suitcase would continue to move forward as it was before the bus braked and it would not travel backwards from the front of the bus. However If for some reason the bus was moving backwards when the driver slammed on the brakes the womens story becomes more likely.

 2. When a car is struck from the rear its suddenly pushed forward and the car then moves the drivers body forward too. The drivers head wants to remain at rest while the his body moves forward causing the neck to whip back. So its not really that the head is moving backwards but the body is moving forward.


Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 8:46 PM EDT

Name: "Rob Vucelich"

It seems that joe just misunderstood the first question and answered it as though the suit case traveled forward and the women was sitting in the front.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 8:54 PM EDT

Name: "Greg Lieb"

1) If I were the judge for the case I would side with the bus driver. It isn't possible for an object to fly from the front of the bus to the back if the bus suddenly stops. The object would have flown from the back towards the front because it would still be moving at the same rate even the the bus was slowing down abruptly.

2) The head of a victim seems to be thrown backwards because when a car is rear-ended it suddenly accelerates forward. A person's body will go with the car, but their head will stay going at the same speed causing it to look like it was thrown backwards. The head isn't really being thrown backwards, the body is just accelerating and the head is staying at a constant speed.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 8:56 PM EDT

Name: "Lieb"

I agree with Doc's answers to both questions. The suitcase couldnt have hit the lady and the car accelerates forward when rear-ended and the people inside get whiplashed.

Everyone's wrecking you duff

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 9:50 PM EDT

Name: "Joe Noce"

1) in this instance, i would have some trouble chosing a side. First of all, this person has clearly undergone some brain damage. For her case to be true she would have to edit her facts. One, she must have been on a trolley, not a bus, and was facing backwards, thinking she was facing forwards. This would then cause something to come flying at her from what she believed to be the front. However, if she had been on a bus, as she claimed, this would not happen, where an object would behaive this way. Due to inertia the object would continue moving forward, just like the other people in the vehicle. If that were the case, i would not side with the woman, because she had to be making something up.

2) if someone hits the back of your car and your head hits the back of the seat, it is not your head that is moving. Your head has more inertia, and it is the car that actually moves into the back of your head.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 9:54 PM EDT

Name: "Joe Noce"

I agree with what rob said in both cases. I didn't think that that bus could be going backwards, it is a point that would make the story perfectly defendable, and i dont think anyone else thought of that, nice work rob!

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 10:02 PM EDT

Name: "Ryan Carson"

1. If the driver were to slam on the brakes the suitcase would fly in whichever direction the bus was moving. I'm assuming that in this scenerio, the bus is driving forward, so if I were the judge, I would the woman was wrong, and probably kick her out of the courtroom. However, if the bus were driving in reverse, than her accusation would be plausible. 

2. In this situation, the head of a victim only appears to be thrown backward. Because of inertia, the person's head would want to stay at the same speed as it was before the crash, while the car accelerates from being pushed forward from the impact.  

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 10:05 PM EDT

Name: "Ryan Carson"

Joe, I agree with you because your the person right above me...except the trolly thing...what were you talking about?...

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 10:14 PM EDT

Name: "Nicole McClain"

1. I would side with the bus driver because what this woman has claimed to have happened isn't plausible, if possible. When a bus is moving forward and the brakes are applied suddenly, all of the objects and passengers on the bus continue to move forward because they are not acted on by any force that would make them stop. Therefore, a suitcase could not be flying backwards due to a sudden application of the brakes if the car was traveling forward. Even if the bus driver was traveling in reverse, I doubt the bus would be moving fast enough for a brake slamming to cause much of an effect.

 2. Extra force is applied to the car itself when another object crashes into it from behind, and the car is pushed forward and it accelerates while the person's speed doesn't change due to his or her inertia. The force on the car doesn't affect the person. Due to the force on the car from behind, it seems as if the person's head is being thrown backwards, but in reality, the seat is just being pushed forward.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 10:19 PM EDT

Name: "Nicole McClain"

I agree with Joe about both aspects and I like his trolley idea. It's very out of the box, it makes sense, and it amused me. I agree with both of his explanations.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 10:23 PM EDT

Name: "Nicole Antonik "

1. All objects in motion will continue their path of motion according to Newton's first law of motion. The suitcase was moving forward therefore it would continue to move forward, not backwards. The woman made a false statement.

2. When a car crashes into another car the energy from the car that does the crashing transfers to the car that is hit. If the car hits hard enough the people in the front car will jerk backward at the time of the impact and then forward immediately afterward. The energy passed on to the front car will cause the persons head to move backward because the persons head was originally stationary.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 10:31 PM EDT

Name: "Nicole Antonik"

I disagree with Joe's answer only because the suitcase couldnt travel backwards due to Newton's first law of motion.

I think Joe's second answer is correct.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 10:36 PM EDT

Name: "Brittany Burns"

1. A sensible judge would side with the bus driver as it is impossible for the suitcase to come flying back toward the woman in the rear of the bus (unless it was going backwards, but it isn't the most feasible idea for a bus to be traveling at high speeds backwards). As the bus stopped, the suitcase would have a lower interia than the bus, so while the bus stopped in would continue moving forward until stopped, says Newton's First Law. The woman is telling a very bad lie.

2. The victim's head is not actually thrown backwards during whiplash. What happens is that when the car is pushed suddenly forward, the car is jolted forward. However, because of Newton's First Law, stationary objects, like the victim's head, remain stationary. Therefore, the car seat is what is banging into the victim's head causing what is called whiplash, though the head of the victim never really moves.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 10:42 PM EDT

Name: "Brittany Burns"

I agree with the idea that the situation in 1 could not occur except if it was going backwards (I believe it was introduced into this discussion by Rob). I also agree with Meredith on the fact that it could have occured during acceleration and not only when the bus was moving backwards.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007 - 10:44 PM EDT

Name: "Gina"

1) In this situation it'd be extremely difficult for an object in the front of a bus to fly up to the back of the bus with enough force to injure someone. The speed or acceleration of the bus moving forward would have to be extremely high for that to be possible. The object did not even move backwards. The object did not move at all, the bus's sudden stop didn't give the object the force it was from the acceleration before the stop.

 2) In the situation of whiplash the body, and car jolt forward in a fast motion. The head doesn't move at all because of inertia. With all of these factors the result is whiplash.


Val: I agree with both answers.

Thursday, 11 October 2007 - 7:06 AM EDT

Name: "Ryan Mewha"

1.) The lady has it backwards, if the bus driver slammed on his brakes then everything in the bus would still have forward momentum and continue to move forward until an object stops it.

2.) When a car is at rest or moving at a constant speed and then is rear ended the people and other objects inside the car want to keep moving at the original speed and this results in the persons head whipping back.

Thursday, 11 October 2007 - 7:08 AM EDT

Name: "Ryan Mewha"

As the lady was joe seemed to be getting the first question backwards, he probably thought that the lady was seated in the front of the bus.

Thursday, 11 October 2007 - 7:29 AM EDT

Name: "Jonathan Madary"

1) I would not believe the woman because the suitcase would have no motion. The force of the break only puts motion of the bus itself by stopping, but not the objects on the bus. The objects might move a little but not as far as from one side of the bus to the other.

Thursday, 11 October 2007 - 7:32 AM EDT

Name: "Jonathan Madary"

1) Also, the suitcase would not have moved backwords anyways because when the brakes were applied, the motion of the people and objects of the bus would have went forward.

Thursday, 11 October 2007 - 7:35 AM EDT

Name: "Jonathan Madary"

2) The head is thrown backwards because the force of the rear end hit forces the motion of the car to go forward, but no force is put on the people in the car, therefore they stay in place put are forced backwards when the car is forced forwards.

Derek- I can understand what you are saying. Good description.

Thursday, 11 October 2007 - 3:09 PM EDT

Name: "danielle gronlie"

1)i would take the bus drivers side because theres no way that the suit case would fly backwards.  the suit case would stay in the motion it was before the bus stoped which was forward. 

2) Your head seems to be thrown backwards because your body along with the car is still moving leaving your head still.  therefore, your head isnt really moving but your body is moving away from your head.

Thursday, 11 October 2007 - 3:12 PM EDT

Name: "danielle gronlie"

i would have to comment on joes first answer.  although i do agree with his argument that the bus driver probably stopped with good reason i disagree with the fact that the suitcase could have possible flown backwards to hit the woman in the face.

Thursday, 11 October 2007 - 7:24 PM EDT

Name: "Derek Krajek"

1)  Her claims could be legit if the bus was moving backwards.  All of the objects within the bus would have backward velocity.  So, when the driver slammed on the brakes, the bus would stop, but the objects within it would have kept moving, because of inertia (they didn't want to move with the bus, so they hit her head).  Secondly, if the bus was moving forward, this girl would've been hit in the back of her head, not the front.  So, I would rule that she is wrong.


2)  When a car is struck from the rear, it gains forward velocity.  So, the car would speed up, as would the person in the car.  However, the head is different, as it would continue with the previous velocity.  Therefore, the body would move from under the head, and the head restraint would hit the head, causing "whiplash."   

Thursday, 11 October 2007 - 7:26 PM EDT

Name: "Derek Krajek"

I think Meredith did a great job of explaning the situation.

Thursday, 18 October 2007 - 1:01 PM EDT

Name: "Gloria Pearse"

1) A passenger sitting in the rear of a bus claims that she was injured as the driver slammed on the brakes, causing a suitcase to come flying toward her from the front of the bus. If you were the judge in this case, what disposition would you make? Why? If she was at the back of the bus there wouldn't be any way the suitcases could hit her because an object that is in motion stays in motion. If the bus was moving forward the suitcase would be moving forward at the same speed. If the bus were to stop the suitcases would continue to move forward to the front of the bus.

 2)Whiplash sometimes results from an automobile accident when the victim's car is struck violently from the rear. Explain why the head of the victim seems to be thrown backward in this situation. Is it really? In a car accident the reason someone would get whiplash is because inertia would cause them to move forward even when the car was stopped. The seatbelt would prevent interia from happened and hold the person back which could result in their head being thrown backward.

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