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Three Ways Ways To Explain.

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Posted by Alexander on January 11, 2002 20:02:12 UTC

Drop a basketball and watch it bouncing before it settles on the ground.

Why does it bounce? Three ways to explain:

1) (Harvey) It is God's will.

2) (Same source) It is simply the way things work.

3) It bounces because when it deforms on impact, pressure of air inside it rizes (due to decreased volume) and thus exerts large force on the deformed spot (as well as on the rest of the ball) pushing them away.

You are free to pick any explanation you like. Most people pick #2 - simple and clear, and does not require any knowledge. Some pick #1 explaining that it is a little better than #2 which is no-eplanation-at-all (indeed, "simply the way things work" is a null statement - it says NOTHING and explains NOTHING). But #1 does explain NOTHING too. This (#2) explanation can not be used to predict anything nor to build anything nor to protect human from negative effect of the phenomenon (if it has some).

Wery few pick # 3 because it requires a knowledge of concepts most people are NOT aware of (forces, pressure, energy, - all nasty math stuff).

But namely and only #3 gives you the immediate power to PREDICT how high will the ball bounce, what happens with underinflated or overinflated ball, how will a hole in the ball affect its bounce, what direction will the ball bounce if the floor is tilted, how much does the ball deform, will it burst if the impact os too strong, at what angle and with which speed should the ball be directed to the floor in order to bounce into the busket, and on and on and on.

So, stop wasting time on dumb and fruitless statements like "God did it" or "It is simply the way things work". Better to LEARN how things work (physics and math), analyse and calculate - then and only then you can accurately PREDICT many things and make life better by building computers, games, communication toys, shelters, transportation, entertainment, drugs, better food, better animals, even better humans. Science (mostly physical-mathematical ones), not gods, make all such things possible.

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