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The Physics of Jump Rope

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the because-he-can dept.

Science 29

sciencehabit writes "Last year, Jeffrey Aristoff and Howard Stone, mechanical engineers at Princeton University, were at the gym waiting for a pickup game of basketball. To warm up, Stone started jumping rope. As the rope whizzed over the head of his colleague, Aristoff wondered, 'Is it known how jump ropes bend in the wind?' A few literature searches later, he concluded that the answer was, 'not really.' Now, the two have solved the problem themselves."

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Jump rope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37926958)

You mean skipping?

Re:Jump rope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37926990)


Re:Jump rope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37926994)

The most common form of the phrase is "Jumping," depending on where you live...

Re:Jump rope? (2)

VanGarrett (1269030) | more than 2 years ago | (#37928892)

"Jumping Rope" or "Skipping Rope" is the activity. "Jump Rope" is a rope dedicated to the purpose.

Re:Jump rope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37929390)

Depends on where you come from. Here it's always been called a "Skipping rope" and the activity is just "Skipping"

Re:Jump rope? (1)

cb88 (1410145) | more than 2 years ago | (#37930748)

Skipping does not require a rope in of itself :P

Re:Jump rope? (1)

Tukz (664339) | more than 2 years ago | (#37946130)

Neither does jumping.

Re:Jump rope? (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 2 years ago | (#37927158)

My thoughts exactly.

What an interesting chap (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#37927184)

I like this guy, he gets intrigued by some rather simple common things, then does the research to actually understand it, publishes it and closes the case. Here is another curiosity [] that he has researched. Perhaps not amazingly useful at face value, but it may well help someone else with an idea or understanding of something else.

Re:What an interesting chap (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#37927190)

His curriculum must be brilliant.

Re:What an interesting chap (1)

itchythebear (2198688) | more than 2 years ago | (#37927394)

I agree. It kinda reminds me of Feynman's Wobbling Plate [] .

Re:What an interesting chap (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37927598)

Reminds me of a guy named Richard Feynman who did some "meaningless" but fun physics research:

Within a week I was in the cafeteria and some guy, fooling around, throws a plate in the air. As the plate went up in the air I saw it wobble, and I noticed the red medallion of Cornell on the plate going around. It was pretty obvious to me that the medallion went around faster than the wobbling.
          I had nothing to do, so I start to figure out the motion of the rotating plate. I discover that when the angle is very slight, the medallion rotates twice as fast as the wobble rate -- two to one. It came out of a complicated equation! Then I thought, "Is there some way I can see in a more fundamental way, by looking at the forces or the dynamics, why it's two to one?"
          I don't remember how I did it, but I ultimately worked out what the motion of the mass particles is, and how all the accelerations balance to make it come out two to one.
          I still remember going to Hans Bethe and saying, "Hey, Hans! I noticed something interesting. Here the plate goes around so, and the reason it's two to one is..." and I showed him the accelerations.
          He says, "Feynman, that's pretty interesting, but what's the importance of it? Why are you doing it?"
          "Hah!" I say. "There's no importance whatsoever. I'm just doing it for the fun of it." His reaction didn't discourage me; I had made up my mind I was going to enjoy physics and do whatever I liked.
          I went on to work out equations of wobbles. Then I thought about how electron orbits start to move in relativity. Then there's the Dirac Equation in electrodynamics. And then quantum electrodynamics. And before I knew it (it was a very short time) I was "playing" -- working, really -- with the same old problem that I loved so much, that I had stopped working on when I went to Los Alamos: my thesis-type problems; all those old-fashioned, wonderful things.
          It was effortless. It was easy to play with these things. It was like uncorking a bottle: Everything flowed out effortlessly. I almost tried to resist it! There was no importance to what I was doing, but ultimately there was. The diagrams and the whole business that I got the Nobel Prize for came from that piddling around with the wobbling plate.

- Richard Feynman, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman

Re:What an interesting chap (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#37931986)

So the Jump rope observations could lead to some breakthrough String Theory discoveries?

Re:What an interesting chap (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 2 years ago | (#37931246)

Somewhat amusing that it takes scientific research to work out what every kid knows from observation, at least if they've ever used a double-length or very soft rope. Foot-timing can get downright tricky due to the slight lag in the middle.

I always wondered why nerds don't exercise (1)

microbee (682094) | more than 2 years ago | (#37927570)

Now I know. For the 10 days out of a year they go to gym, they get distracted by things like this!

Re:I always wondered why nerds don't exercise (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#37927822)

Off-topic, but jump rope really is great exercise for both cardio, all-around conditioning, and coordination. A ton of boxers, past and present, do it, and it's my almost exclusive cardio. 12 minutes with a speed rope is more intense than 30 minutes jogging. Just have a decent surface to absorb shocks, and not hard like concrete. I used a wood pallet outside with a board on it as a cheap solution.

Re:I always wondered why nerds don't exercise (1)

GNious (953874) | more than 2 years ago | (#37931192)

Weighted handles (metal bars) and a 4mm steel-wire for rope does wonders on exercising - just wear shoes, or learning will cost you a toe or two.

Re:I always wondered why nerds don't exercise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37936108)

My coach was of the opinion that the effort it takes to get proficient enough at jump rope for it to be useful is not worth the effort.

Dynamics of Funny Looking Motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37927744)

This jump rope model is the most important contribution since NASA's Barrel of Fun series: []

Re:Dynamics of Funny Looking Motion (3, Insightful)

underqualified (1318035) | more than 2 years ago | (#37930944)

This is a better jump rope model: []

For cheap, easy karma, call xkcd! (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 2 years ago | (#37927826)

The duo boiled it down to a balance between two ratios: the length of the rope versus the distance between its ends, and the force of drag versus the inertia, or "centrifugal force," of the spinning rope.

Don't you mean centripetal force, Science Magazine?! Hmm? HMM??!
( [] )

Re:For cheap, easy karma, call xkcd! (2)

shish (588640) | more than 2 years ago | (#37931204)

I would think that they put it in quotes because they knew that it's technically inaccurate, but provides an easy to visualise mental model of the process

Next up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37927956)

...researchers at Hustler University set out to determine exactly how the angle of the dangle is inversely proportional to the square of the hair!

High altitude skipping (1)

mr.andreas (1824046) | more than 2 years ago | (#37930002)

"Aristoff says, and if your goal is to set a speed record, "jumping rope at high altitude, where the air is less dense, could be advantageous."" What about the reduced levels of oxygen, would that not work against a person trying to set a speed record?

Fascintating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37931116)

Next he can study the parabolic flight properties of thrown monkey poo.

String theory ... rope theory ... (1)

Dabido (802599) | more than 2 years ago | (#37931704)

Didn't they prove that theory wrong? :-)

Next mystery to solve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37931752)

Why do folk in the USA ignore centuries of heritage and refuse to call it a skipping rope?

Skipping rope (1)

dgriff (1263092) | more than 2 years ago | (#37933666)

Love the way Americans call it a jump rope so as not to sound too girly :)

Re:Skipping rope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37934646)

Love the way Humans call it "Physics" so as not to sound too ignorant.

Raise your hand if your race has a quantum explanation for gravity... or Mass!?! Bwah Ha HA!

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