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applied physics

In pilot school, we learned that airplanes are designed to be inherently stable, that is, they want to fly straight and level. You pull back on the control wheel really fast and let it go, you'll point up. Then you'll lose speed and point back down. Then you'll gain speed and point back up. You'll continue flying in these little waves that get smaller and smaller, until finally you'll be straight and level again. Some thing occurs if you hit a funny air pocket that bumps you up or down.

You can load a plane with a bunch of stuff, but if you load it too far forward or backward, you'll lose that stability. Too much stuff in front, and the nose will never point up and you won't get off the ground. Too much stuff in back, and the plane will just keep pointing further and further up until you stall out, can't recover, and crash to the ground tail first.

What I'd like to decide is if people are inherently stable, and just loaded wrong, or inherently unstable. Because sometimes I feel like I just can't straighten out for any period of time. Turbulence, maybe?

The wright brothers airplane was completely unstable, but somehow accomplished something. Almost none of today's pilots would be able to fly it. Funny thought.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
missniceness
Feb. 23rd, 2003 07:10 am (UTC)
Keep in mind...
Not all planes are designed to be inherently stable. Look at stunt planes...which are designed to roll and spin in the air...or fighter jets which wouldn't even be able to fly if it weren't for precise fly-by-wire systems.

So it depends on your purpose in life. Some of us need that instability...it's part of who we are.

Some of the worlds brightest minds were unstable (I think of Galelaeo, Van Gogh, Beethoven, and of course the great Edgar Allen Poe). I think that was necessary because being extraordinary in everything would make you like a god or something - it just steals away from your humanity.

So let go...enjoy the ride. Perhaps a Patty Wagstaff show will be of interest one day!
epi_lj
Feb. 23rd, 2003 08:02 am (UTC)
I don't think that there's any one explanation or motivation that governs everybody. (Which, as the other poster pointed out and as your own post points out, is also true for planes.)
stemware
Feb. 23rd, 2003 09:45 am (UTC)
It seems to me that the American Eagle commuter plane crash in Charlotte last month may have been caused in part by improper weight distribution. Apparently they thought that it was very near, or just beyond, its maximum cargo and passenger weight and too much of that weight was towards the rear of the plane, thus causing the plane to, like you say, go straight up when it took off.

Unfortunately, the ground, and a building, were there when it came down.

feanelwa
Feb. 23rd, 2003 10:26 am (UTC)
Hm.
I think most people are inherently stable, they can just go a long way up or down before they get back to equilibrium, and sometimes it would take longer than a human lifetime to get back to equilibrium. And loading doesn't help, but mostly people are like negative feedback aeroplanes that eventually get back to some description of equilibrium.
Whether it's a happy description though is another matter which depends heavily on the person and on the loading and on the air.
*stops rambling on now*
crisco747
Feb. 23rd, 2003 11:09 am (UTC)
Hmm, you actually make a very intriguing point...

We all start off stable, it is life's experiences and stresses that weigh down our minds. Too much good or too much bad offsets the mind enough to cause some instability. The more weight, either way, the more unstable we become. It reminds me of a quote from Crichton's The Lost World:

"Too much change is as destructive as too little. Only at the edge of chaos can complex systems flourish."
autonomy02
Feb. 23rd, 2003 01:14 pm (UTC)
I think that all people are inherently unstable. If you think about it, when you are standing, your body is constanly adjusting your muscles to keep you ballanced. If you try to stop all of you muscle activity, you would just fall over, therefore, people are inherently unstable.
nanikore
Feb. 23rd, 2003 03:36 pm (UTC)
People aren't inherently stable or unstable. Apparently whichever group survive better would pass on the gene, blah blah blah, cut and paste evolutionary theory here. Of course, we have hospitals. Forget that mechanism, at least for the short term.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon was designed to be inherently unstable so that it could change direction quickly. Artificial stability is achieved via on-board computer trim control that does not involve the pilots.
fire_hazzard
Feb. 24th, 2003 01:35 pm (UTC)
Not to be too nit-picky, and not that I know all too much about physics, but as I understand it if a plane stalls out, it will actually contact the ground nose first. the shape of the plane will not allow it to fall the entire distance to the ground with the tail leading. - but I could be mistaken.

And I doubt that the designer of humanity had 747's in mind while picking the emotional statum available to us.

unrelated religious joke as told by Jen's Kevin:

Some scientists were sitting around when they realized that they no longer needed God. Everything God was doing, they could do now - he was replaceable. So they went to God and said "God, we don't need you any more, Science has grown now to the point that you are unneccisary. You may leave..."
God thought about this for a moment and said "Uhh, well... I was kinda here first and thought I might stick around a little longer if you don't mind too awful much."
"We really don't need you, you know. we can do all the stuff you can."
"Oh really, wanna try?"
"sure, what can you do?"
"Well, I made a man from dirt once, I suppose I can pull that one again for you..." and so God reaches down and scoops up some dirt and beathes the breath of life into it, and makes Adam v2.0.
The scientists say "alright, our turn now" and they bend over and begin scooping up dirt.
"No, no, no... wait." God says, "first you must make your own dirt!"
(Anonymous)
Feb. 24th, 2003 05:45 pm (UTC)
FYI, in case you didn't know
It seems that spacefem.com has left the building.

Only a few hours left until all of your forum users start to die a slow, painful death from spacefem withdrawl. The clock is ticking.

;) Love, BCG
spacefem
Feb. 25th, 2003 04:29 am (UTC)
Re: FYI, in case you didn't know
Yeah, it's been in an out a lot lately. WiredHub has apologized (http://forum.wired-hub.net/index.php?act=ST&f=2&t=615&st=0) but things seem to be back up now. This month has not been fantastic, I admit.
alliiya
Feb. 25th, 2003 06:23 pm (UTC)
What I'd like to decide is if people are inherently stable, and just loaded wrong, or inherently unstable. Because sometimes I feel like I just can't straighten out for any period of time. Turbulence, maybe?

I believe that it might be more along the lines of the inherently ...stable, loaded wrong and unstable...without the mix of it all, we would be pretty dull and predictable. Life has to have it all for us to learn what is best for us and what isn't. I love the way you think, process and determine! *HUGS*
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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