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ERIC Number: EJ1090071
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Feb
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Motion of a Ball on a Moving Surface
Cross, Rod
Physics Teacher, v54 n2 p76-79 Feb 2016
A well-known physics demonstration is to pull a tablecloth rapidly from under some crockery without disturbing the crockery. An interesting question is whether the same result can be expected if the crockery is replaced by a ball, given that the ball might roll backwards on the tablecloth. Theoretical and experimental results are presented showing that the result depends on the acceleration of the tablecloth. If crockery is at rest on a tablecloth, and if the tablecloth is pulled slowly, then the crockery will move at the same speed as the tablecloth. With a rapid pull, the crockery appears not to move at all. In fact, the crockery will move a small distance horizontally since the coefficient of sliding friction is not zero. The secret of success is to minimize the horizontal impulse, not by reducing the friction force but by reducing the time over which it acts.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A