Move the World

A seesaw (also known as a teeter-totter) is a long, narrow board supported by a single pivot point, most commonly located at the midpoint between both ends; as one end goes up, the other goes down.  The seesaw is common on most playgrounds and they all feature a board which is balanced in the center.  A person sits on each end, and they take turns pushing their feet against the ground to lift their side into the air.  As one person goes up another person goes down.  The Greek Archimedes was speaking metaphorically when he said, ‘Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world’ because a long lever would reduce the amount of energy needed to lift an object.

Archimedes’ Law of the Lever, involves a statement about balancing a beam with different weights distributed along its length, and this is a classical example of a problem drawn from and applied in, the physical world, but which is most illuminated when treated in abstract mathematical terms.  Following in the footsteps of Euclid, Archimedes sets up a few axioms which are simple abstractions of the everyday experience and from which he proceeds to derive step-by-step the less obvious properties.

I wonder, how long a lever would need to be on Earth, to be able to lift a sphere with the mass of Earth, if a human of average size were to sit on the other side of the lever?  Since the mass of Earth is 6×10 to the 24 power kg, and if Archimedes can lift 60 kg, he would need a lever with an arm ratio of 10 to the 23 power to 1.  So if the short arm is one meter long, the lever length will be 10 to the 23 power meters plus one or 10 to the 24 power meters in length.  We must also note that Archimedes would have to push the lever for 10 to the 24 power meters to shift the Earth just by one millimeter.  With the length of the lever, being 10 to the 24 power meters which is the equivalent of 10 million light years, that is one damn long lever.  The Andromeda Galaxy is the nearest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way and that is approximately 2.5 million light-years away, so that would only be one quarter of the distance needed.  If Archimedes were to push the lever for 10 to the 24 power meters at the speed of light, it would take him 10 thousand years to move the Earth.  Another quandary, technically any leaver that lifts an object away from the Earth also lifts the Earth away from said object.  Maybe one meter for the short arm is too long, as all Archimedes said was the he could move the Earth, he did not say how far.  If Archimedes could move the Earth the equivalent of an electron, it would still be moved.

For Linda G Hills Stream of Consciousness Saturday
The prompt is High/Low.

7 thoughts on “Move the World

    1. SOCS made me start thinking, Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling, Simple Online Courseware System, School of Computing Science, School Of Corresponding Studies, Scientific Opportunities in Cislunar Space and then it came to me Stream Of Consciousness Saturdays, but I think that I already did that.

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  1. What I know from a practical aspect is when the heavier mass on a teeter-totter suddenly jumps off, it leaves the other poor sap in a free falling situation accelerating towards the earth at 9.81 m/s<2 and the force at impact is directly over the person's coccyx (which essentially leaves that person with a sore tailbone for days)

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