Center of Gravity
Name: Angela S
I am trying to understand forces and levers, my question
is; What is the difference during turning that makes tall cars and vans
more unstable than low sports cars?
As you've anticipated, it's all about leverage. When a car makes a
turn, the road exerts a force on the wheels in the direction of the
turn, and because this force is not directed through the center of mass
of the car, it exerts a torque. Two torques, actually: one turns the
car and the other tries to flip it over. Imagine a stationary car on a
carpet. If you get on the driver's side of the car and pull the carpet
hard enough, the car will flip over. This is the force I'm talking
about. The further the carpet is from the center of mass of the car,
the greater is the lever arm you're using to flip it over.
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Update: June 2012