If a Snowball and a Bus…

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I learned an important, hands-on physics lesson my senior year in high school. A small cooler full of snowballs on the front seat, with a wingman, makes for a great mobile snowball fight. When you realize your good friend (and physics teacher) should be returning to town with his empty school bus, the thinking cap gets pulled down a little too tightly. I still have the lucid memory of Mr. Kauffman with a big smile on his face, waving broadly across the windshield.

As I was reminded on every physics exam for the remainder of the academic year, a snowball in a car traveling 55 mph turns into a 110 mph force of nature when it meets the windshield of the oncoming school bus also traveling at 55 mph. Needless to say, the equal and opposite force required to counteract the 110 mph object was significantly behind the original plane of the windshield, heavily reliant on the safety lamination layer between the glass.

Today, I oversee the design of tornado shelters built to withstand 250 mph winds and flying objects. Thank you for the life lesson, Mr. Kauffman.

By: Dave Stewart

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