Physics of the Everglades

I have spent the weekend in Miami with Alejandro and his godparents, Francisco and Maria.

Today we went for a Swamp Boat ride in the Everglades.  Last week in U-Design Flight School I discussed how to turn a plane, you needed coordination use of both yaw and roll.  If you try to turn a plane using just yaw (via the rudder) you will find up “skidding” through the air.

However, I noticed that when the Air Boat was turning it was actually going forward even though it was turned at an angle, as if we were on ice rink.  If your car did this you would be skidding out of control.

After our air-boat ride we had a presentation with the alligators.

Here, Alejandro is holding Snappy the Alligator, who is only a year old who is a highlight of the Alligator park.  This picture was taken this morning.

And this picture was taken in March of 2008 of Alejandro with Snappy the Alligator, who again is only 1 year old.  I feel deceived. It wasn’t the same Snappy.

So what are the physics of alligators?  On our lab tour of the Holt lab this Friday we learned that Professor Holt is studying alligators and how they communicate using Faraday waves.  They vibrate the surface of their back in such a way that it stimulates the surface of the water to jump.  You can see this in the below video.




So it was a fun weekend. Alejandro learned a lot about climbing trees.
This is another full topic full of great physics. How do you get that friction on a vertical surface? You need to pull yourself into the tree limbs or trunks. Without Normal force you cannot have any friction? Where do you place your center of balance? Do you use your feet or your hands? Here is Alejandro climbing a Florida tree.

And many thanks for Francisco and Maria for hosting Alejandro all week long and letting him climb the trees in front of their house.If you really want to learn about the physics of tree climbing….