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A preview of "Crime" Join Brilliant Premium

You come into a snowy field at twilight and find a dead body in the field with bicycle tracks on either side. Which way did the murderer leave?

It might not seem like physics can help us, but we can use it to decode information hidden in the tire tracks.

We'll start with simple observations like this:

  • Due to the rigid frame, the wheels are kept a distance \(\approx\ell\) apart.

And by the end, we'll be able to solve the mystery:

Consider the aerial view of the bicycle tracks shown below. In which direction did the murderer leave the body?

We'll also

  • solve a contested suicide using elementary fluid mechanics
  • help an insurance investigator settle a case using friction and the conservation of momentum
  • determine the danger of stray bullet fire using projectile motion and wind resistance

Master the problem solving skills of Physics of the Everyday.

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