Who can calculate the Physics of That?

Today’s entry is brought to you by near-death experience numero trois!


I nearly killed myself on the drive home from work this afternoon.  I had looked over at 85 N for about  five seconds while driving 40mph in a tunnel-ish structure; and when I looked back, there was a car, stopped, with its left blinker on approximately five to seven car lengths in front of me.  I looked in the rearview mirror and the right side-view mirror to see if there were any cars behind me (slamming on my brakes would’ve achieved nothing).  There were no cars behind me in the right lane, so I braked enough to slow down to 25 mph, got into the right lane, passed the car, and then got back into the left lane.

Oddly, I didn’t experience any physiological changes.  No heartbeat increase, no breathing increase.  There was just an internal acknowledgment of  “oh shite – check mirrors.”   Had I not returned my gaze to the view in front of me when I did, I’m pretty sure I would’ve plowed right into that little, white car waiting to get into the left lane so it could turn onto Sidney Marcus.  If  I were to survive it, it’d be my fault for any damages to the other car and to the other driver.

I then went to Lenox to take a walk and really wanted a milkshake when I was done.  I went to their newly opened Chick-Fil-A in the food court, but the line was too long.  I decided to go to Borders and ordered a milkshaky beverage.  By the time it was made, however, I was in no mood to consume it.  Yes, I waited a couple minutes longer than I would’ve wanted, given my craving, but it was the sheer amount of ice cream that was scooped which dried up my taste buds’ action.  The serving of ice cream for that medium drink could’ve easily substituted a three-course meal.  When it was finally ready, I took a lick/bite of the top and decided there was no way I was going to consume all, half, or even a third of it.

Moving to the title of this post, I’ve had close-calls before in terms of avoiding collisions, where there would just be car damage (fender, hood, doors).  Today’s event, however, brought me some fifteen seconds away from driving 40mph into a non-moving car.  Who can calculate the Force with which I would’ve hit that car?  Anyone?

I took a few good self-portraits by the Noel tree when I got home.




~!~ Read about near-death experience deux and un. ~!~

15 thoughts on “Who can calculate the Physics of That?

  1. Staci

    Wow! Glad you’re okay! I’ve had near misses like that and somehow managed to refrain from panicking. It’s like some other, higher sense takes over and you don’t even contemplate what could’ve happened.

    Now you have me in the mood for a Chick-Fil-A milkshake! (And nuggets! :o)

    Nice photos!

    1. sittingpugs Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Staci!

      When some other driver is involved in nearly hitting me, then I get seething mad and become momentarily possessed by a sailor. The heartbeat increases, the perspiring begins, the breathing gets heavy, which is also how I react when I barely manage to avoid hitting an animal.

      I was listening to this song at the time too.

      It’s quite upbeat so I just cannot explain how calm I managed to stay.

  2. Moshe Jacobson

    A 2001 Nissan RAV4 weighs 2877 lbs (according to http://bit.ly/7XOvh2), which is 1305 kg. 40 mph is 17.9 m/sec.

    Force is equal to mass times acceleration. Let’s say it took 1/2 sec from the moment you hit the car until you stopped moving completely. That means you’re decelerating at the rate of 35.8 m/(s^2). Therefore, you exerted 1305*17.9 = 23359.5 N (newtons) of force on the stopped car.

    Are you happy now?

      1. Moshe Jacobson

        Oh, wait, I forgot. You have to add in your own weight to the calculation, since you were in the car, too! But since you probably weigh less than the spare tire, I think our calculation is still mostly accurate.

  3. viv66

    I’m glad you were OK. I know from recent experience(which you commented on at the time) quite how scary these things are.
    Merry Christmas; it’s trying to snow here in England and it’s blowing a gale!

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