Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How Stuff Doesn't Work

HowStuffWorks.com was a site that I frequented often while I was in high school, it didn't have tons of articles but they were good articles. However, in the years since then it has become profitable and as it has the quality has gone downhill. I recently visited the site and came across a link to their "getsmart challenges" and there it was The Ultimate Automotive Physics Quiz. Looked interesting so I figured why not give it a go. By question 11 I knew something was wrong, the question asked "As an object accelerates, its velocity and drag.." increases or decreases. Of course in laymens terms this is a perfectly valid question, however in physics acceleration is defined as a change in velocity over time and it works in both directions. Additionaly, when an object passes through the sound barrier the drag drops off drastically. So the statement is even more wrong. But it gets better because the next question was

This isn't even correct in laymans terms. The car can no longer have a "positive" acceleration when the drag force equals the force the engine and tires can exert on the road opposite the drag. So to conclude I will say Rest In Piece the How Stuff Works that was once actually good.


  1. That is so very sad. It was my favorite site in high school too. I used to read every article. Now even the old articles are too filled with random junk to be worth anything.

  2. Well, if you drop the car out of an airplane...

  3. well as long as you measure weight in Pounds (Force) not in kg (mass) haha, do you think thats what they were thinking of?

  4. Was that a pun?
    Rest in piece (as in pieces).
    Did you mean: "Rest in peace?
    And you know who posted this one.

  5. I assume that's what the idiot author of that survey copied from some Wikipedia article he/she read and didn't understand.