Seats in the upright position

December 15, 2006 at 12:43 am (Uncategorized)

Rarely around here to we get caught up in the same mindless drivel that appears on chatboards and news blogs across the rest of the country. It’s a detriment to the rest of the country because they don’t get to share the abundance of wisdom overflowing this site. And by “abundance of wisdom,” I mean, “a lot of drunken babble.” And I mean that with love.
This seemingly simple question has been causing fist fights in some geek circles. You don’t need a firm grasp of physics to mull the scenario, just a lively imagination and a willingness to bitch slap any moron who disagrees with your assesment. Let the hair-pulling begin, bitch.
Free airport sized bottles of hootch, a tiny bag of peanuts and a nude photo of Isaac Newton to anyone who can formulate an incontrovertible answer to the riddle.

“Imagine a plane is sitting on a massive conveyor belt, as wide and as long as a runway. The conveyer belt is designed to exactly match the speed of the wheels, moving in the opposite direction. Can the plane take off?





  1. Orville said,


  2. Nadine said,


  3. LaFlamme said,

    You’re both right! Also, wrong.

  4. Linda said,

    My vote is yes, as long as it’s not in a vacuum. Planes don’t push with their wheels, do they? They’re driven forward by the engines or propellers blowing air backwards.

    BUT — what about a car? That would be even more fun to imagine. Could a car take off?

  5. Arby said,


  6. Rolling Chunder said,

    The conveyor belt is a Red Herring. What action the wheels of the plane are engaged in is irrelevant. Liftoff occurs when the air rushing over the wings generates lift.

    Thus sayeth Chunder.

  7. Mainetarr said,

    And if the plane takes a crap in the woods and no one is around to see it, will it still smell?

  8. Melissa said,

    Hahahahaha speaking of in the woods, what is invisible and smells like carrots? Bunny farts.

  9. Newton said,

    Chunder: Airplanes need lift to take off, that’s true.

    Lift is generated by air flowing over the wings and the air flow comes from forward motion. So, if the plan stays in one spot — all forward motion by the jet is negated by backward motion from the conveyor belt — there is no air flow and no lift. That oughta be true as long as the plane is stuck on the ground.

  10. LaFlamme said,

    Chunder’s and Linda’s observations echo the prevailing attitude of the hardcores over at Boing Boing. And they may be completely right, I’m not sure. But while the motion of the wheels doesn’t dictate the plane’s power, it can control it’s movement. And if there’s no movement, there’s no flow of air over and under the wings. So, how the hell is that puppy taking off? And where the hell is the drink cart?

  11. Kain said,

    What Newton said.

    It’s simple, don’t over think things. The net result of everything is that the plane is standing still…of course it can’t take off.

  12. LaFlamme said,

    Ahhh, Kain. That would be Occam’s Razor. The easiest solution is almost always the right one. Or some shit like that.

  13. LaFlamme said,

    If you find a burned tree limb in the forest the day after a storm, Occam’s Razor dictates that lightening is the likely cause.

  14. Prop head said,

    “oughta be true”… but it aint.

    The wheel and the conveyor don’t matter. The jet is doing the pushing, and the wheel and the conveyer can spin at 3 million miles per hour if they want. The airplane, pushed by the jets, still moves, gets lift and flies. The wheels and the conveyor will just spin trying to keep up, but they really don’t matter.
    High school physics. That’s all.

  15. LaFlamme said,

    The super intellectual Scott Taylor demonstrated that very concept by grabbing a toy blimp on my desk. He slid it along the desk and explained that his hand was the equivalent of the airplane’s thrust. The desk beneath the wheels could roll as fast as it wanted, he said. It wasn’t going to be enough to counteract the force of his hand upon it. Thus, it was his opinion that the plane will move forward regardless and that it would take off as expected.

  16. Scott said,

    See what happens when you talk about things like this?

  17. AO said,

    I agree with Scott. Of course it’s going to take off. Could you imagine the trouble the pilot’s would be in if it didn’t take off? Think of all of those disgruntled holiday travelers.

  18. LaFlamme said,

    Not to mention the asshole who installed that conveyor belt in the first place.

  19. AO said,

    I know. Who is that asshole anyway? Some geek, I’m sure. And, I wouldn’t dare disagree with Scott. He’d probably egg my house.

  20. Martha said,

    If they want to know the answer, why doesn’t someone just try it. I’m sure the capability is there somewhere to put it to the test..then no one would have to speculate anymore..
    Am I a party pooper?
    Mark, I thought you was going to put my pics in the evidence room.

  21. AO said,

    Mark…put Martha’s pictures in the Evidence Room!! I want to see them!!

  22. Bobbie said,

    I want to see the photos too!

  23. LaFlamme said,

    A mystery woman is taking care of those photos right now.

  24. LaFlamme said,

    As for the airplane riddle, we could let Mythbusters handle it. But nah… let’s just go out to the airport with some bitching tools and spare parts and see what we can do.

  25. Mystery Woman?? said,

    Here ya go peeps, Martha’s pics:

  26. Mystery Woman?? said,

    who am I?

  27. Nadine said,

    Damn! Mythbusters is a great idea! They seem to be running out of myths to bust anyway…you should submit it Mark!!

    My theory is that it would be more like a treadmill, ya keep up and ya don’t really move, if ya don’t…thud thud, owwwwww!!! Heh!

  28. LaFlamme said,

    And don’t try forcing me to reveal the mystery woman. There’s no way I’m giving you Nadine’s name.

  29. Nadine said,


  30. Nadine said,

    You know I luv ya….asshat!

  31. LaFlamme said,

    Now that you (I mean SOMEONE) posted the pics, everyone has slithered off. Slithering slitherers.

  32. Martha said,

    Mark, sorry, I didn’t intend to scare everyone away… 🙂

  33. Scott said,

    I asked my son and his friend the airplane/conveyor riddle and they said it wouldn’t matter if the airplane was a Harrier Jump Jet ( the kind with jets in the bottom for vertical take-offs). So. This Gordian knot solved by a pair of 10-year-olds.

  34. Nadine said,

    Hey Mark, that reminds me of a tongue-twister drinking game called “Turtle” (appropriate for me — turtlegem).

    The last twister (which hardly anyone ever survives to “win”), is “10 slithering sheets slitted by Sam the slithering sheet slitter”.

    And, yes, “you bet you’re sweet ass I’m a turtle” — for anyone who is also a member, heh!

    Martha, I love the pics! Georgeous grandkids!! You are truly blessed!

  35. Martha said,

    Thank you Nadine.. I think they’re rather handsome.. I’m just a little biased.

  36. Linda said,

    Yeah, why don’t they just get a friggin helicopter if they are so friggin keen to take off?

    Dammit, when will it be Friday? Wait — it IS Friday? See you in a bit, i have some photos to look at.

  37. AO said,

    MARTHA!! So nice to finally put a face to the name! That is your face..right?? Handsome grandsons!! Thanks for sharing.

  38. Martha said,

    Yes, that is me.. along with my whole clan in the one picture.. Thank you.. LOL.. the youngest one was being a little butthead so I was tickling him. He’s a little shy, but a little orner too.. I wonder where he gets that from.

  39. AO said,

    It’s nice to see you, Martha. You have very beautiful grandsons.

  40. Linda said,

    Martha, great family pics! Yes, it’s nice to share pictures. Thank you.

  41. Martha said,

    HMMMM…. that was supposed to be ornery,… TY LInda

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  42. Linda said,

    I just got some new photos of my granddaughters tonight. Maybe later I’ll put them in photobucket and share. They are pretty gorgeous. Totally objective opinion

  43. Linda said,

    I’m trying to book a trip on line, and I’m feeling like my theoretical plane is on a conveyor belt to hell. The final blow: everything was finally organized and set up just the way i want it, and not costing more than I can afford (well not much more). Then the program asked for my passport number and while i went to find my passport THE SESSION TIMED OUT — FOR MY OWN SECURITY AND PROTECTION. I’m raving right now. Is it 5 o’clock anywhere? oh hell, who cares?

  44. LaFlamme said,

    Where’s that steward person attendant with the damn drink cart!

  45. Linda said,

    It’s BYO today — but free beer tomorrow I hear.

  46. free beer tomorrow said,

    but the stuffed crust pizza was yesterday, not available today

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