Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Real Super Beth

The movers loaded all of our household goods yesterday. It was a long day for all of us. Lily and Beth had been asking about going to the park all day, so we finally set off to go to the park for 20 minutes.

After a couple of minutes, Thomas, Lily and Beth all ended up with me at the merry go round. I spun and they kept cheering faster. I spun it as fast as I could. They still all screamed "FASTER!". But I was getting tired. After a small break, we started up again, they started asking me why I couldn't spin it any faster (note to self: don't fall for this again).

I explained that we could use physics to help us spin faster, but I needed their help. Instead of being so close to the center, if everyone started on the outside, let me spin the merry go round as fast as I could, and then they could all move to the center, it would end up spinning much faster, very similar to an ice skater tucking inward for a spin.

So everyone moved to the outside and I started to spin the merry go round. Once I got it as far as I could, I told them to move to the center. They all screamed as they pushed inward and the merry go round super accelerated. Then I heard Beth scream, "HELLLLLP!"

Now our particular merry go round (is there a shorter name for that) happens to have a metal railing 8 inches above the surface around the entire perimeter to help prevent small children from being ejected at high speeds. Nevertheless, I have still seen children ejected from this merry go round. They just go over or under the bar. In the second while I was trying to figure out what was wrong, something came at me from my right side and I instinctively jumped back. I realized too late it was Beth.

While Beth looked nearly horizontal, I estimate from how high her feet were off the ground that her body was somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees swept out from vertical. By my calculations, sqrt(tan(60)^2+1)=2 and sqrt(tan(70)^2+1) =2.92, which means she was experiencing something between 2 and 3 g's of force (mathematically inclined friends: feel free to correct my calculations if I am missing something). This makes me think it had to be closer to 60 degrees, because there are very few of us that can hold on to a bar while experiencing 2 g's and it would be almost Herculean to hold on to a bar while experiencing 3 g's.

I started to run after her, but stopped almost immediately, because she was already a fourth of the circle ahead of me. I had to get her on the next go round. I just wasn't sure if she could make it. "Hold on Beth!", I yelled. I got ready like the next runner in a baton relay, and started running in anticipation of Beth's arrival. I grabbed her around the torso, and tried to pull her off , but her grip was too strong. Adrenalin can do amazing things for a little girl. I didn't want to hurt her by yanking too hard. "Let go Beth!", I said. The merry go round started to pull her out of my arms since I couldn't keep pace. "Let go! Let go! Let go!", I screamed. She did.

By the time she had let go, the merry go round had pulled her to the point that I was just holding her thighs in my hands, and my arms were completely extended. I had to swing her around and up just so her head wouldn't hit the ground. She started crying immediately and I thought she was hurt in some way, but as I talked to her, she said she was just scared. No bruises. No scrapes. We were lucky and blessed. She kept saying it all seemed like a bad dream. I'm just glad it had a happy ending.