The springboard used in modern diving competitions is a complex mechanical system that a skilled diver must master. In a running dive, for example, a skilled diver knows how to first take three quick steps along the board to start the board oscillating and then leap to the free end of the board so as to be catapulted high into the air. A novice diver can imitate that procedure but fail miserably to be catapulted upward and might even be knocked off the board.
What is the “secret” of a skilled diver’s high catapult?
The answer is in this chapter.
Our world is filled with oscillations in which objects move back and forth repeatedly. Many oscillations are merely amusing or annoying, but many others are financially important or dangerous. Here are a few examples: When a bat hits a baseball, the bat may oscillate enough to sting the batter’s hands or even to break apart. When wind blows past a power line, the line may oscillate (“gallop” in electrical engineering terms) so severely that it rips apart, shutting off the power supply to a community. When an airplane is in flight, the turbulence of the air flowing past the wings makes them oscillate, eventually leading to metal fatigue and even failure. When a train travels around a curve, its wheels oscillate horizontally ...