Glenbrook South Year-End Projects
The Physics of
Basic Research Questions
Your role as researcher for this project involves acquiring a
wealth of technical information about the physics of sailboating. The
process of conducting a literature search should yield some basic
information about the topics of buoyancy and sailboat control. Some
basic topics for research and ultimate discussion have been listed
below to assist you in the initial stages of your literature search.
The role of this listing is to provide an initial framework for your
literature search and not a conclusive list of topics to be
discussed. Your group is expected to go beyond these topics,
exploring diverse areas of individual interest about sailboating.
- State Archimedes' Principle and use it to explain in detail
why sailboats (or any object) can float on water.
- Describe what a buoyant force is and discuss the factors which
effect the amount of buoyant force acting upon a floating object.
- Explain why and how the boat bottom shape effects the ability
of a boat to float and use diagrams and equations to explain what
shape offers both the most buoyant force and the most stability to
a floating sailboat.
- Identify the forces acting upon a sailboat and describe their
origin; depict these forces by a free-body diagram; explain the
origin of each force thoroughly.
- Discuss how Newton's third law helps to explain how sailboats
are propelled through the water and how they are steered
through the water.
- Discuss vectors and vector resolution and apply basic vector
principles to the propulsion of a boat through the water; use some
calculations to demonstrate why certain sail angles with respect
to the wind allow a boat to maximize its speed through the water.
- Explain what water drag is and discuss it in great detail.
- Define terminal velocity in general terms (not just for the
specific case of a falling object) and apply it to the motion of a
boat through the water.
- Use Newton's second law, a free-body diagram, and sample
values of individual forces to calculate the acceleration of a
typical sailboat over time. That is, use physics equations
and numerical information to show how a sailboat starting from
rest relative to the wind will have varying accelerations until it
reaches a terminal velocity.
- Use physics to explain how a sailboat can move upwind.
- Discuss the application of torques and balanced torque to the
stability of a sailboat.
- Identify and discuss the purpose of the major components of a
- Identify and describe the different types of sailboats.
- Describe and explain several forms of modern technology used
on today's more expensive sailboats.
The Physics of Sailboating
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This page last updated on 4/16/98.