She’s A Motorcycle (artwork)

 Posted by Bob the Hamster on February 18th, 2006

Current mood: Not Groggy

The unusual thing about motorcycles is that they don’t fall down. (I’m not saying they can’t, it’s just that they typically don’t) How does a motorcycle stay up? I mean, when it is standing still, it is really hard to balance. You have to use your feet or the kickstand or it will just topple over. (This is true for bicycles too, for those of us who haven’t actually ridden a motorcycle) But when the motorcycle starts moving, it stays up. It feels like magic. If it falls down when it is standing still, why should it be any different if it is moving?The answer is time dilation. As a moving object (the motorcycle) approches the speed of light, its mass increases, as predicted by special relativity. In four dimensional terms, the motorcycle compresses, bringing a little more of the future motorcycle into the present (or to put it another way, the motorcycle in the present catches up with the part of itself that is already in the future) This coexistance of present and future in the present is what prevents the act of “falling down”. If the motorcycle were to start to fall, it would have already started to fall, thus getting in its own way and propping itself back up.It doesn’t have to be a motorcycle. Any moving object approaching the speed of light can reproduce this effect. Try it yourself by running really fast and then trying to fall down.

See? It can’t be done.

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