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Old Mar 8th 2009, 08:47 AM   #1
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Planes fying north and east

I have been posed a problem which on the face of it seems trivial, but the more you look, the wackier it gets. I'm in a complete muddle with frames of reference...

Can anyone give me the proper Physics behind an answer?

Two planes depart from JFK International Airport at the same time. One plane flies due north, while the other one flies due east. Both planes fly at the same speed and at the same height. After one hour, which plane is the furthest away from JFK?
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Old Mar 8th 2009, 06:31 PM   #2
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This is an interesting question. One major physical aspect of it is that the earth is rotating toward the east. So you have the question of whether the atmosphere is exactly pulled along with the earth and whether this makes the rotation of the earth immaterial to the answer. Another aspect is the fact that the earth is not pefectly spherical and the problems "furthest away from JFK" could be interpreted as the straight line distance between the plane and JFK. Other realistic aspects are prevailing winds etc. A high degree of realism makes physics too dangerous to apply.
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