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Displacement During Uniform Acceleration

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How Many Gs Can You Take

How Many Gs Can You Take

Credit: US Government
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rocket_sled_track.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Col. John Stapp riding a rocket sled at Edwards Air Force Base, as part of an experiment to study the effects of deceleration on the human body. The human decelerator was a 680 kg unit that sailed down a railroad track that was approximately 610 m long. The system was accelerated by rear mounted rockets while the deceleration was controlled by varying the amount of bins the system would pickup as it traveled down the track.

  • Witness Col. Stapp on the Rocket Sled:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4tuvOer_GI

Amazing But True!

Credit: U.S. Air Force Airman or employee
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StappSled.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Col. John P. Stapp experimented with many experiments involving high speed travel [Figure2]

  • Col. Stapp volunteered for a total of 26 experiments where in some cases he would travel at speeds up to 632 miles per hour. He was able to show that the human body could withstand at least 45 Gs in the forward facing position using the appropriate harness. 
  • The research that Stapp was apart of helped revolutionize the way both commercial and military air craft were designed. Because of Stapp, new flight harnesses were created, the acceleration requirements of flights seats were increased and rear-facing seats were discovered to be the superior position for safety in both military and commercial aircrafts.
  • Later in his career, Col. Stapp eventually moved his focus to the importance of seatbelts in automobiles. As a result of Stapp, in 1966 Lydon B. Johnson signed into law that every vehicle must be made with seatbelts. 

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Using the information provided above, answer the following questions.

  1. If you were to experience a negative acceleration of 29.43 m/s2, how many Gs would you experience?
  2. Why couldn’t the scientists just launch Col. Stapp’s rig into a brick wall while he was inside of it?
  3. If the time span at which Col. Stapp is brought to a stop is doubled, would this increase or decrease the total Gs that he would feel?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: US Government; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rocket_sled_track.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: U.S. Air Force Airman or employee; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StappSled.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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