My siblings and I had a tree house that my dad had helped us build in a big aspen tree. It wasn’t really a tree house, it was more of a platform that you had to carefully climb onto and hug to the tree so you didn’t fall over the side as there were no rails. To give you a perspective of the size of our “tree house,” all four of us kids couldn’t fit on it unless we sat on each other’s lap. But the point of the tree house was not to have club meetings or camp out, the point was to climb up 15 feet to the platform grab onto the handle/pulley contraption and ride down the zip-line. Dad had hooked a thick cable to the tree and stretched it taunt to the hitch of our old jeep. With this ingenious idea, we kids had endless hours of trying to find cool ways of not falling from the platform or the zip-line. The potential risks of this toy were forgotten as soon as our hands grasped onto the handles of the pulley and we felt the breeze blowing in our hair.
My knowledge of physics came from the zip-line. For example, I learned that if you hold on to the pulley and jump right off the platform (remember 15 feet above the ground) your arms and hands aren’t ready for the weight of the rest of your body. The law of gravity was thus introduced to us as we rubbed our sore rear-ends and tried to walk off our bruised tailbones. The law of gravity was one lesson that each of us only needed to learn once, from then on, we learned to lean out a little way over the platform so that our arms could adjust to the weight before we pushed off the platform.
I also learned about the law of motion. If you are zipping down a zip-line and you pass by your siblings who are running as fast as they but still can’t keep up with your speed, chances are that your own legs won’t be able to catch up to the speed of the pulley so that you can stop yourself and land on your feet as the ride ends. No, that doesn’t happen, the law of motion requires that you end your ride on your bum (which is still sore from learning about the law of gravity). There was a nice airstrip carved out of the ground at the end of the zip-line in the shape of two little butt cheeks due to the number of booty-landings that were successfully completed.
The physics law that I remember most is the law of Captain. Something I failed to mention about the zip-line was that once (if) you survived the “jumping off point” you then had to hold on so you didn’t drop into the ditch filled with vile, stinky, stale, duck poop water. Immediately following the ditch was a mess of blackberry bushes that often reached up with sharp painful thorns to grab any legs that hung too low. If you made it past the blackberry bushes one more burst of energy was required to lift your legs and booty as high as you could to avoid the grove of pointed reeds that stretched up and tried to violate any bum that didn’t have enough height. The law of Captain has been scientifically proven time again that if my brother, Captain, played on the zip-line he would without fail fall off. It didn’t matter if it was into the ditch of despair, the thorns from hell or the rape-o-the reeds; at one point in our play Captain would start down the zip-line and in seconds the pulley would come sliding to a peaceful stop at the end of the ride, alone. Captain’s favorite place to fall off was over the blackberry bushes, he could then roll off into the ditch water thus hitting two birds with one stone.
No serious damage was ever done, just some scratches, bruises and a fractured arm or two. Nothing that wouldn’t mend in a few short weeks and then experimentation continued with the search to answer the question “What is the scientific explanation behind the Law of Captain?”
And now ends our lesson on the law of physics, there will be a test next week…