JUN 12, 2018 5:29 PM PDT

The Science Behind Skateboarding

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

Not all physicists are skateboarders, but with their physics-defying twisty moves skillful skateboarders understand quite well about mechanisms behind speed and motions.

In addition to having an intuition of how a skateboard behaves, a good understanding of the principles of physics would allow skateboarders do their tricks and jumps effortlessly.

So which principle is the best to explain the spinning motion of skateboards in midair? It's Euler's rotation equation. This vectorial equation deals with the dynamics of rigid bodies, in this case, the skateboard. Given the board is traveling linearly and spinning/rotating at the same time, the mathematic method can resolve any question regarding the board's angular and linear speed, by using a rotating reference frame with its axes fixed to the body, and parallel to the body's principal axes of inertia. In a 1991 paper, scientists used the exact equation to analyze and intepret a novel twisting motion of a tennis racket.

Source: Physics Girl via Youtube

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
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