Let's Make Robots!

Impossible Question...

I was driving with my son Phoenix, in the truck when he asked about the things hanging from my rear-view mirror and why they swing during corners. I explained centrifugal force, which he easily understood. The very next day as I was adding wood to the fire, he asked, "if there was a fire in your truck, would the flames bend when you turned"? First off, I was amazed and proud at what a kick-ass question this was coming from a 6-year-old. Second, I was struck with the fact that I had no friggin' idea. So, here is the question, fellow geeks and nerds...

(all of this assumes you can remove the wind factor)

A) Does a flame have mass?


B)  Is a flame affected by centrifugal force?

Now, tell me that is not a damn-good question.

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Good question, and my thought is that no it would not bend, why, I don't know though. I think you would  see the flame at an angle due to the roll(unless you can keep it flat) of the vehicle during that said turn.

You can always cound on a small child to ask the most bizzare questions and yess it's a damn good one although I can't think of an application. (nuclear fission perhaps?)

The burning gas that we see as flame is lighter than the air around it which is why flames and hot air balloons rise but it still has mass.

If you put a candle in a clear box with just a few tiny holes top and bottom so the flame won't run out of oxygen but won't allow any significant "wind" to affect the experiment and drove around then I suspect it would be affected but in the opposite direction to what you'd expect since the cold air around it would be affected more and thus push the flame in the opposite direction.

This is all theoretical and I don't suggest you drive around with an open flame and a small child in the car. The effect will probably be hard to see since the air and flame are very light.

Your best chance of proving it would be to mount a candle in a container with a small wireless camera so you can observe the flame remotely. Mount that container on a wheel and spin it so you can get more centrifugal force than you would driving around. It would make for good video 8o

wow, good idea that one of the wheel :)
You are better at describing exactly what I was thinking :P

Go opposite!! --I never thought of that. It would be like a centrafuge... Heavy stuff to the outside.

Crap, I've got this stuck in my head again...

I would say try it out!

You can get a lighter with a variable flame. take of the metal housing and crank it up so the flame is a few inches tall.

I would say it would go opposite, much like helium.


Sounds like another video experiment! (cue rik)

but busy 8-(

also, (read below) this one is for Phoenix to explain to us!