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Newton and Intuition

I have been exploring automotive engineerring over the last few weeks, and this exploration forced me to revisit concepts in classical mechanics after a long time. The flashback has been damn exciting!

Newtonian Mechanics, probably the most innocuous subject in the whole of Physics, has some of the most unintuitive offerings!

The moment one leaves the comfort zone of two dimensions, classical mechanics becomes a whole lot tougher. Fortunately, unlike the more exotic topics in physics, three is the maximum number of dimensions which classical mechanics can trouble us with! Whenever I occasionally read about theory of relativity, or about nano-electronics, or any of the obviously incomprehensible topics in physics, I feel awed by them; but these topics were always out of my reach! Heck, classical mechanics was supposed to be simple!

Let me attempt to mentally asault you. Spare some time and watch this video on Gyroscopes and watch this video on Coriolis Effect. Once you are done with these videos, you can probably empathise with my embarrasment. If you are particularly free today, try convincing yourself why Universal Joints don't force the input and output shaft to have the same angular velocity.

My embarrasment, however, is shared by whole of mankind! How much ever we flaunt about our scientific advances, we have not yet been able to fully understand how bicycles work! To summarize, our intuition is not as good as we intuitively think it is. Plus, we don't need to understand bicycles to reach mars :D


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