# Fun with fundamentals: Problem 246

May 1, 2001
Hold on to your sails...The answer to this physics problem might sweep you away

Problem 246: Ships ahoy
Hold on to your sails...The answer to this physics problem might sweep you away.

In writer Jules Verne’s famous adventure novel titled Mathias Sandorf, Captain Matifou uses his supernatural strength to perform heroic deeds. One such deed included stopping a newly built ship from colliding with a yacht by grabbing the rope that was tied to the nose of the ship. According to the story, Matifou wrapped the rope around a nearby pole three times and held it, stopping the ship and allowing the yacht enough time to pass by unharmed.

In the novel, Matifou’s act is described as requiring superhuman strength. But just how much force did this 19th century superhero need to hold the ship’s rope tight after wrapping it around the pole?

According to the book, the ship weighed 50 tons. The angle of the slide is 1/10, and the coefficient of friction between the rope and steel pole is around 1/3. Use Euler’s formula to calculate friction force as a function of the windings around a round pole — F=feka — and ultimately the amount of force Matifou needed to use to succeed at this heroic feat.

Solution to problem 245, April 2001: Crazy crates

### Pumps Push the Boundaries of Low Temperature Technology

June 14, 2024
As an integral part of cryotechnology, KNF pumps facilitate scientific advances in cryostats, allowing them to push temperature boundaries and approach absolute zero.

### The entire spectrum of drive technology

June 5, 2024
Read exciting stories about all aspects of maxon drive technology in our magazine.

### MONITORING RELAYS — TYPES AND APPLICATIONS

May 15, 2024
Production equipment is expensive and needs to be protected against input abnormalities such as voltage, current, frequency, and phase to stay online and in operation for the ...

### Solenoid Valve Mechanics: Understanding Force Balance Equations

May 13, 2024
When evaluating a solenoid valve for a particular application, it is important to ensure that the valve can both remain in state and transition between its de-energized and fully...