By Debbie Kerr
People often associate Fall with beautiful colours and I’m no exception. While there’s a science behind the colour change, I would rather just enjoy the views. That’s not to say I don’t like science. In fact, except for physics, I’ve always enjoyed it. Having said that, physics, particularly Newton’s first two laws, became a little more important about four weeks ago.
If you need a refresher, here are those first two laws.
First Law: An object will remain at rest or in its state of uniform motion in a straight line unless it is constrained to change its state by the act of an external force.
Second Law: The Force on an object is equal to the mass and acceleration of the object.
People learn better with examples, so this story is one that should make these laws much clearer and a little more interesting.
I was walking up the stairs from the basement with some freshly cleaned clothes. Because I have had trouble going up and down stairs with a laundry basket, I have progressed to a safer (or so I thought) “put your clean clothes in a big towel” technique. This technique has worked for a very long time, until it abruptly didn’t.
As I walked up the stairs, I lost my balance and put my hand out to steady myself. Unfortunately, I only found air…not the wall I had hoped for. Suddenly, I was the object in motion that remained in motion until I was constrained by the act of an external force called the floor.
Since my mass exceeds expectations according to the Body Mass Index (BMI), I believe I accelerated very quickly as I fell off the “side” of the staircase. Anyone can fall up or down the stairs, but it takes someone with some serious talent to fall off the side of the stairs. Granted, the railing had been removed and never put back, so I like to think that, in addition to Newton’s laws, I also demonstrated the importance of proper safety features.
When I fell, things happened so quickly that I didn’t have the luxury of the “everything seemed to move in slow motion” moment that some people talk about. While I would have preferred that things worked that way, it would have disproven Newton’s Laws and it would have been more like the Matrix. The latter would have been much more fun (and gentle); however, I don’t have the right wardrobe (let alone talent) to be in the Matrix.
Now that I was on the floor, you’ll be happy to know that I demonstrated the second half of Newton’s First Law, where anything at rest tends to remain at rest. I didn’t try to move right away. I just laid back and took in the reality of my fall. The top of my head hurt a bit, but there was no severe pain that would have signalled a broken bone. Eventually, with my husband and son by my side, I gingerly overcame my inertia in the basement and started my next period of inertia on the main floor.
The next day, stiffness set in, and bruising started to surface on my left arm (Fall colours). Ironically, while most of my pain was on my right side, all the bruising was on my left arm. With this newfound evidence, I knew there was a second external force that had flipped me from my left to my right side. Without security cameras, a nanny cam, or some assistance from a CSI team, I will never know for sure.
In the end, it’s not always the journey that matters, but the result. I survived and I learned in the process.
What did I learn?
Seriously. What can people learn from a fall?
Over 30-years of writing experience, about 10 years as a cancer survivor, and a lifetime purveyor of wit and laughter.
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