Friday, December 10, 2010

The Physics of Holiday Decorations

... or to be specific, the Christmas tree and the Hanukkah menorah (or the Festivus pole if you wish).

PhysicsCentral has an amusing look at how unstable these items are during the holidays, especially when they are fully loaded with decorations.

On a Christmas tree, the majority of the mass is concentrated near the floor. It has a low center of mass. The aluminum Festivus pole's mass is evenly distributed, putting its center of mass right near the center of the pole. For a menorah, with its branches at the top, it's center of mass is higher. That means the menorah would be the most likely to topple.


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