Have you ever observed a child playing with toy blocks? A favorite game is to build towers and then make them topple like falling trees. To the eye of a trained physicist this should immediately look like an example of the physics of “falling chimneys,” when tall structures bend and break in mid-air while falling to the ground. The game played with toy blocks can actually reproduce well what is usually seen in photographs of falling towers, such as the one that appeared on the cover of the September 1976 issue of The Physics Teacher.1 In this paper we describe how we performed and analyzed these simple but interesting experiments with toy blocks.
Permission has been granted by AIP Publishing to supply this article for educational and research purposes. More info can be found about The Physics Teacher at http://scitation.aip.org/content/aapt/journal/tpt. © 2005 American Association of Physics Teachers