Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Co-efficient of Friction - what surfaces conflict in your life?

You may remember a recent blog about Momentum.  Who knew that my Bachelor of Science in mathematics and statistics, with a dalliance in physics would come in so handy?  Let’s move on to understanding friction.

Not the friction that occurs between me and my daughter when she wants to play for a fourth hour on her Nintendo 3DS, and I want her to practice the piano.  Although, this blog might be applicable.  Let’s come back later and test it out.

No, I mean the friction between two surfaces, that either stops the objects from movement, or slows down their movement.  It gets a little more complicated than momentum (I can tell, because I quickly understood the mathematics around momentum, but am struggling a little with Coulomb’s Law of Friction).  Suffice it to say, there is a value known as the Co-efficient of Friction, which varies depending on the two surfaces in contact.  For example, ice on steel has a very low co-efficient of friction, although not as low as Teflon.   
Another time, I’m going to write about Teflon coated people, but let’s master the basics first.

Rubber on dry concrete has a high co-efficient of friction, and this is important when you lock your brakes up.  You want the car to come to a quick stop.  Another pair of surfaces that have a metaphorically high co-efficient of friction are writing and procrastination.

As I write, with the momentum I have, there is a force working against me.  That’s how friction is experienced.  I’m tempted by so much.  Should I stop and check how many hits my blog has had?  Are any of my friends saying anything of interest on Facebook.  Recently I rediscovered my love for table-tennis on the Wii.  It’s very realistic, mirroring topspin and slice.  Next thing you know, several hours are gone as my daughter and I strived to defeat the Champion...without success.

How did my earlier conversation go?

‘Daddy, I’ve already practiced four times this week.  I don’t need to practice anymore.’  Siena’s voice needs a shriek meter to measure the decibels.

‘How often does your piano teacher say you should practice?’

‘Twice a week.  That’s all.  Why are you so mean to me?  Give me back my things.’  Blackmail is a constant in our house, as Siena reminds me.  It’s a big concept for a ten year old, but she understands it well.

‘Let’s call your piano teacher and ask her.’  Parents can be so wicked.  I disturbed our Piano teacher on her Saturday morning and was rewarded with the knowledge that Siena should practice twenty minutes every day.  But the best advice was to ask Siena to complete her Piano practice diary every day.  I don’t know if that will work, but it’s certainly worth trying.  It’s probably a good idea for me to overcome my writing friction.

What are the surfaces conflicting in your life, and how do you overcome the co-efficient of friction?

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