Homework_1_Solutions - Physics 203 Spring 2008 Homework 1...

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Physics 203 – Spring 2008 Homework # 1 Solutions Eric Monkman Don’t be discouraged if your answer is different than one below. The long answer questions can often have many correct answers (note; they can have many incorrect answers too .... ), take these to be examples of the main ideas that we are looking for. 1) In Greek mythology many natural events were ascribed to the actions of the gods. For example, Zeus was responsible for lightning and Poseidon for earthquakes. With little understanding of the structure of the earth, or the origin of electricity, early people had to create supernatural explanations like this to explain the world around them. While it may surprise some of you to know that lightning still isn’t fully understood, we do know that it is caused by a build-up of static electricity in the clouds that is then released when an enormous current connects the sky and ground. The bright flash and loud sound are a result of the immense heat that is released by running a current through the normally non- conducting air. Earthquakes are also now understood to be caused by motions of the earth’s tectonic plates. 2) Probably the simplest argument for a flat earth is your day-to-day observation that things just look flat. As many people (not unreasonably) believed, the earth must be flat because that is how it looks to the naked eye. There is also the problem of what we now understand to be gravity. Everything appears to fall down. An extension of that logic predicts that things on the sides and bottom of the earth would just fall off. This doesn’t rule out a spherical earth, but it does make it seem like an unlikely possibility. On the other side of the issue, there are a few clever observations that can contradict the flat-earth picture. As is mentioned in our text, Aristotle pointed out that the shadow projected on the moon during an eclipse is always round, which indicates that the earth must be spherical in shape. An even more
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