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Question
QUESTION: Hi,

So here is my problem. I have built a mousetrap car and when I run it, it jumps and make my car steer to the right, and makes me lose my straightness. Is there any advice you can give me to make my mousetrap car not jump.

Thanks,

Avi

ANSWER: I would suggest a gear.  Your acceleration will be lower, but your maximum velocity will be much higher and more under control.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I can't use a gear because the speed of the mousetrap snapping is what is causing the problem. And adding gears wouldn't do a thing.


Thanks,

Avi

Answer
But that's exactly what I'm talking about.  If you geared it down it wouldn't snap like that.  You need to have the mousetrap connected to a pull-string around a small gear attached to a large gear.  That larger gear has a second string around it.  This will lower the forces dramatically and increase the acceleration distance.

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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson

Expertise

I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.

Experience

I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

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Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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