Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Center of Gravity
Name: Angela S
Status: student
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1999 


Question:
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?


Replies:
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.

Tim Mooney



Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory