Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Physics of Firewalking

You get a rather good article on the physics of firewalking, and you don't even have to pay $2000 for it. You get it for FREE! Such a deal!

Last Thursday, close to two dozen participants at a motivational seminar hosted by Tony Robbins suffered burns on their feet, while attempting to tromp across lanes of red-hot coals. So what did these burn victims do wrong?
A layer of ash atop the coals serves as an additional protective barrier. Like the coals beneath it, ash is a poor conductor of thermal energy (so poor, in fact, that it has a history of use as insulation material in ice boxes). Add to this the fact that the ash is no longer producing any heat itself, and one can begin to appreciate how walking over a bed of 2000-degree coals might be possible.
If I had to guess what happened with the people who suffered burns Thursday night, I'd say that they spent too much time looking into "the power within themselves" and "focusing on walking on the fire," and not enough time focusing on actually getting themselves off the coals.
Some time, some people shouldn't be saved from themselves.



Kuhan Muniam said...

Dear ZapperZ,
I am a freshman majoring in Physics,
and I love your
So you want to be a Physicist guide!

My question is,
what do you think about joining the Putnam competition?
Generally, what is your opinion on joining competitions in college?
Will these competitions benefit me in my quest to be a good physicist?


ZapperZ said...

Glad you found the guide to be useful.

I don't know much about the Putnam competition, so I cannot give you any advise regarding it. As far as being a "good physicist", let's just say that I've seen many good physicists that didn't join any kind of competition while in college.


Kuhan Muniam said...

Dear ZapperZ (again),
I am an incoming freshman planning my undergraduate courses.
Assuming I have enough time, should I take lots mathematics courses or should I just rely on a 'mathematical physics' book?
My college has a 'Methods of Mathematical Physics' course but it is Graduate level!

Assuming I have enough time, how much math should I learn? Should I focus on getting more Physics courses instead of math? I really want to follow your advice on learning the math before the Physics.