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Chuck and the Hammer

Throw
Chuck Stevenson wanted to go the Olympics. In fact, he wanted to win
it. Gazing attentively at his hammer, he could just imagine the crowds
cheering as he spun in circles and released his grip on the chain that
held the ball. He thought of the pressure on his arms, the evenness of
the ball's motion, and the smooth tension that resulted from him
swinging it. Suddenly intrigued, Chuck hopped on his laptop and
began to research the physics of the hammer throw. A few minutes
later, confident that he had what it took to make it to the top, Chuck
picked up his hammer and headed outside.

He started by swinging the hammer in a level circle around his head.


Chuck understood that this action demonstrated the principle of
Uniform Circular Motion, the motion of an object in a circle at a
constant speed. He knew from physics class that although the speed
was constant as he swung the hammer in a circle, the velocity was
constantly changing as it changed directions around the circle. He also
knew that this uniform circular motion was accompanied by
centripetal force,
Centripetal force was the force that made an object follow a curved
path, following the circumference, or edge of a circle, and was the
reason why the hammer stayed in the same path. After some
experimentation, Chuck realized that by increasing the distance
between himself and the hammer (the radius of the circle they created)
he could increase the velocity of the hammer while maintaining the
same centripetal force.

On accident, Chuck let go of the handle on the hammer because his


fingers were so sweaty. Luckily, it landed in a nearby bush, but Chuck
noticed something else as well. Even though the ball had been
traveling in a curved path (a circle) when he had let go it had shot
straight off into the bush, very lucky considering he was right behind
his house at the time. Puzzled, Chuck headed back to his laptop to gain
a deeper understanding of the physics at play.

Chuck decided that actions of the hammer were caused by inertia, and
the path it took was called the momentum path of inertia. The velocity
of the hammer at any point in the circle was called the tangential
velocity, which implied that the hammer's velocity at any given point
indicated a straight path tangent the the circumference of of the circle.
He realized that this could be applied the any object that utilized
uniform circular motion.
With his newfound understanding of the physics of the hammer throw,
Chuck was able to practice with a new vigor and efficiency that
allowed him to progress to the top, and become one of the best
throwers in the world. A year and a half later, he qualified for the 2016
Summer Olympic Games, and earned a silver medal. Upon arriving
home from the ceremony, Chuck sat down once again at his laptop and
began his research anew, elated and confident of success in both
physics and athletics. Four years later, he earned his bachelor's degree
with a physics major, and once again qualified for the Olympics, this
time armed with more than just a hammer.