Cornell University

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Science Cabaret: Why don't bikes fall down?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 7:00pm

Ithaca Sciencenter
601 1st St, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

You can balance a bike with hands on the handlebars. Or off. And, surprising if you haven’t seen it, a bike can balance itself, with no person touching it. When viewed from the back, a bicycle looks like a stick balanced on end. If it tips a little, gravity pulls it down more.

A bike should ‘want’ to fall over, but why doesn’t it?

There are famous popular theories going back over 100 years, some by famous people. Maybe, the spinning wheels are like a top or gyroscope? Maybe it’s the steering geometry? New experiments show that these ideas are (mostly) wrong.

Some of the bike ideas are related to how people don’t fall down when they walk, and how to make better walking robots.

Come see videos, demos and discuss with Andy Ruina. Then know better why you don’t fall down on your way home.

Andy Ruina has been a professor of mechanics at Cornell since Monday August 25, 1980. He was an organizer of RIBs, Ithaca’s bike recycling program, from about 1992-1997. He is interested in the mechanics of, besides bicycling, walking, robots, sailboats and sewing machines.

$8 in advance > Get Tickets
$10 at the door

While this topic may not be of interest to children, they are welcome to attend.

Museum exhibits are not open during this program.

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Event Type

Lecture, Special Event, Presentation


Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering






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Andy Ruina

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Cornell University

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