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The Physics of Star Wars’ BB-8 Bouncing Around the Millennium Falcon #SciFiSunday

Sketches spring 2015 key8

From WIRED:

Every time a new clip is released for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I find something new to analyze. I really need to stop, but I can’t. In this video we see BB-8 getting tossed around inside the Millennium Falcon. Now for an analysis.

What would make BB-8 ride up the side wall of the Falcon? The answer is the same force that pushes you against the car door when you make a turn: nothing. There is no force that pushes you in this kind of motion. In fact, the car door pushes you when you turn but nothing is pushing you into the door. Why is this so? Let’s start with the Momentum Principle. This says that the net force on an object changes the momentum of an object.

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