We have speed cameras here in Maryland, and included in the controversy has been some miscalibration of the equipment. (Here’s an example from the Washington Times.) The article prompted me to send a send a note entitled “Physics and Speed Cameras” to my colleagues, offering to help if anyone thought she’d been wrongly served. Here’s how one wonderfully bright, funny, and articulate colleague replied:
These are the problems that always confounded me – if two trains are traveling toward each other, and one is going 50 mph and the other 75 mph and the first one leaves Penn Station at noon for Union Station and the other leaves Baltimore for Newark at 1:15, when will they pass each other? This is why I became an English major. The CPA thing was just a terrible aberrant period in my life that I’d just as soon forget about.
I understand. Many of us do. (As my grandmother told it, the question was, “What color were the conductor’s eyes?) Dan Meyer @ dy/dan also balks at these impossibly dull, interest-killing train problems.
Next year, I’d love to put a photo speeding ticket in front of my 9th-grade physics students and ask, “Was this ticket fair?” The People Will Want to Know.