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What’s The Problem?: Tides

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Holy cow, what a year so far. Now that the MTBoS challenges are (sadly!) at an end, I figure I should get back to posting things of my own volition. And so, here’s another WTP? post (can I use that? Looks kinda weird. I’ll think on it).

Act 1: Observations and Hook

I use this web applet in physics. I don’t know how to get it into my webspace, so I’ll just provide this link: Press play. Step through with >> and << . The legend makes it look a little confusing, but once you decipher the picture, cover up the legend with a Post-It note or something. Also, this link seems to move every year or two, so I might update it if need be.

Act 2: Questions, Possibilites, Resources

  • Why is the sun so small?
  • Why doesn’t the moon turn?
  • What continents are showing?
  • Is this to scale?
  • Is there zero water when the blue blobby-thing disappears?
  • Why are Spring tides so much higher than Neap tides?
  • Why are there high tides on both sides of the planet if the sun and moon are one side?

Act 3: Resolution and Continuation

  • The applet is definitely not to scale. The moon actually is turning, but it’s tidally-locked with the Earth.
  • This is supposed to be a roughly North-Pole view of the Earth.(How would you have to redesign the applet if this were an Equator-centric view?)
  • Besides the oceans, what bodies of water have tides? What’s the limit as to size? Can people have bodily-tides?
  • Do tides affect only water?
  • To be a more accurate representation of this part of the solar system, what would you add/change?
  • What would have to happen for tides to be non-existent? Twice as big?
  • Are tides changing over millennia?
  • Mars has two (relatively small) moons. If Mars had liquid water, what might its tides look like?
  • Make a model for the theoretical tides on other moons.


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