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Gareth56

Slinky in Space!

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If an astronaut went outside the space shuttle (all protective clothing worn of course) and attached one end of a slinky to the shuttle could the astronaut create a longitudinal(or transverse) wave in the slinky?

Edited by Gareth56

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If you're thinking, "in the vacuum of space there's no mechanical medium for waves to propagate" then unthink it, because the slinky is the medium.

 

Oh...

 

Not that there are not certain practical difficulties/inconveniences involved. The slinky is a very weak spring, so if the astronaut is attempting to string it between himself in freefall and the spacecraft he'll slowly get pulled towards the spacecraft. So it would be hard to be absolutely at rest wrt to the spacecraft while pulsing it. However it's so weak that probably a flick of a finger against the hull would send the astronaut quite a way out before the tension pulled him back again.

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I was just wondering what the individual coils have to push against when an initial push is delivered to the first coil?

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The first one would push back at whatever it was that pushed it origionally. The others would then push against each other I suspect.

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The first push would be against the astronaut's inertia, but since his mass is large relative to the mass of the spring, the velocity imparted to him from the reaction of imparting a wave into the slinky would be very small.

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