Physicist Uses Mathematics To Beat $400 Traffic Ticket
Well, one physicist from the University of California-San Diego, used his mathematics and science background to convince a judge that the police had erred when they issued him a $400 ticket for failing to make a complete stop at a stop sign.
According to the Physics Buzz Blog, Dmitri Krioukov, after receiving a traffic ticket for allegedly blowing the stop sign, he wrote a four page paper outlining the three physical phenomena which misled the cops to “believe” he had broken the law.
Here’s how Physics Buzz breaks it down.
When Krioukov drove toward the stop sign the police officer was approximating Krioukov’s angular velocity instead of his linear velocity. This happens when we try to estimate the speed of a passing object, and the effect is more pronounced for faster objects.
Trains, for instance, appear to be moving very slowly when they are far away, but they speed past when they finally reach us. Despite these two different observations at different distances, the train maintains a roughly constant velocity throughout its trip.
In Krioukov’s case, the police cruiser was situated about 100 feet away from a perpendicular intersection with a stop sign. Consequently, a car approaching the intersection with constant linear velocity will rapidly increase in angular velocity from the police officer’s perspective.
Similarly, if a car approaches the stop sign with constant velocity but brakes quickly before reaching the sign, the angular velocity will rapidly increase before stopping momentarily. To illustrate this point, Krioukov created two graphs: one for the case of constant linear velocity through a stop sign (illegal) and another for a quick stop at the sign before accelerating back up to speed (legal).
Well, Krioukov’s defense seemed to work as both the cop and the judge bought it and Krioukov didn’t have to pay the hefty $400 fine.