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Inline Skating

 

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Overview
Push and glide. Push and glide. Faster and faster, until you're cruising along somewhere near 25-32 kilometers (15-20 miles) per hour. The wind whistles around your helmet. The wheels on your in-line skates whisper as you race along. Science and math are a long way from your mind. But they aren't a long way from the sport. Side-surfing, crossovers, backward skating, swizzling, arabesques, and roller hockey all depend on physics. Physics is the science that tries to explain things like matter and energy. Energy added to matter can produce motion. Motion can be changed by force. And when you're having fun skating, serious forces come into play. For starters, you push and glide to increase your speed. But you aren't just moving, you're moving in a certain direction-hopefully forward, though backwards works and "down" happens a lot when you're first learning. Motion in a particular direction is velocity. You increase your speed while trying to pass the slowpoke on the bike in front of you, decrease your speed to let the five-wheeled in-line racer pass you, or swerve to avoid a pothole. All of these actions involve changes in velocity and are therefore accelerations. Still not convinced that something so popular could have anything to do with physics? Then how about center of gravity? You may not realize it but you're finding your center of gravity every time you try to keep your balance while you're slaloming, tweaking, or wall-riding. And if you don't find it, you experience the forces of gravity (and friction) firsthand. Ouch! When you're stair-riding or checking someone into the boards during a roller hockey game, you're dealing with another principle of physics - inertia. Newton's first law of motion talks about inertia, which is the tendency of a moving object to maintain a constant velocity. It's the principle you benefit from in the "glide" part of "push and glide." After you push, you'll keep on going until friction within the wheels' bearings, between the wheels and the ground, and between you and the air rob you of your forward motion. The physics of motion - acceleration, velocity, center of gravity, inertia, and friction - are all part of every in-line race, hockey game, or zing around the park. Who knows - understanding the science better may help you become a faster, better, and more powerful skater!

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