Constant speed+Changing direction = Acceleration

In the article, “The Amtrak Derailment And Newton’s First Law“, by Sara Rennekamp from, explains how the derailment of the Amtrak Northeast Regional train was due to excessive speed and it’s centripetal force. The speed of the train rounding the bend was too great for the track to withstand, thus derailing causing many injuries and deaths.

I found this article being an important learning experience on how simple miscalculations can be so disastrous. After reading about what happened with the Amtrak Northeast Regional train, maybe the reasons due to many other train derailments are caused by excessive speeds. I also find really interesting how Newton’s laws are basically used everyday, like rockets being launched, sports, and hobbies.

This article relates to our conceptual objective, “I can apply Newton’s laws of motion and Newton’s law of universal gravitation”, by interpreting Newton’s first law of motion into the Amtrak derailment. The tracks are designed to provide enough force on the train so that it turns against its natural direction (straight), and around the bend. But, the speed of the train caused the force to become greater, thus exceeding the force needed to keep the train on the tracks. Newton’s first law of motion states an object moves at constant velocity if there is no net force acting upon it. An example of this law is a spacecraft in space. It needs no fuel to move since there is no net force acting upon it such as gravity and resistance. Newton’s second law of motion states Force = mass * acceleration(F=ma). This law explains why you can throw a baseball further than a bowling ball. The same force is used to throw the balls, but the mass of them are different. In class, we discussed Newton’s third law of motion through lecture tutorial pages 29-32. The problems in these pages applied Newton’s third law of motion, for any force, there is always an equal and opposite reaction force. In the lecture tutorial problem with the spacecraft in between the Earth and Moon, indicates equal force with the Earth and moon but a different force from the spacecraft. If the spacecraft was in the middle of the Earth and the Moon, It would start to move toward Earth because the force is greater then the Moon’s force.


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