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MUHD ZHARRIEQ HAIZZAD B. ZAINOL 1107G17083 11J2 14th May 2012



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This investigation is carried out to investigate the falling ladder paradox, where the main objectives are to find the relationship between the vertical falling rate of the ladder and the horizontal sliding rate (pulling rate) of the ladder. With the introduction of the simulation program,

it was made possible for researchers to find such relationships. However, there are still some limitations to the data that can be produced by the simulation program. In this simulation program, a ladder is placed so that one side is leaning on the wall, and the other end of the ladder is resting on the floor.


A few sets of data is collected by changing the variables; pulling rate and the position of the ladder. The sets of data consist of the pulling rate that was used, position of the base of the ladder from the wall, the corresponding sliding rate and the time taken for the ladder to slide to the

floor. From the data, relationships between pulling rate and sliding rate is calculated using calculus method (differentiation, integration). The sets of data is arranged into tables according to the pulling rate that was used.

X = Distance between the base of the ladder and the wall H = Distance between the top of the ladder and the floor dx/dt = the pulling rate, P dh/dt = the falling rate t = Time taken for ladder to be on the floor


3.1 FINDINGS Task 2 When dx/dt = 1.00 ms-1 H= 3 m X= 4 m dh/dt = -1.346 ms-1

TASK 2 X (m) 0.998 2.009 3.007 3.993 Pulling rate, dx/dt = 1.005 ms-1 H (m) dh/dt (ms-1) 4.912 4.554 3.939 2.937
Table 1

t (s) 4.031 3.0265 2.033 1.052

-0.205 -0.441 -0.757 -1.334

X (m) 1.005 2.008 3.008 3.994

Pulling rate, dx/dt = 2.011 ms-1 H (m) dh/dt (ms-1) 4.911 4.555 3.938 2.935
Table 2

t (s) 2.012 1.513 1.016 0.526

-0.412 -0.882 -1.515 -2.670

3 Pulling rate, P = 2.990 ms-1 H (m) dh/dt (ms-1) 4.911 4.555 3.945 2.925
Table 3

X (m) 1.006 2.008 2.999 4.002

t (s) 1.354 1.018 0.687 0.352

-0.614 -1.311 -2.242 -3.991

Pulling rate, P= 3.995 ms-1 X (m) 1.001 1.994 3.007 4.000 H (m) 4.912 4.562 3.939 2.928
Table 4

dh/dt (ms-1) -0.817 -1.737 -3.008 -5.325

t (s) 1.013 0.765 0.511 0.263

The falling rate is always negative as the direction of the ladder falling is always down. Based on the four tables of data, it is apparent that if the pulling rate is multiplied by a factor of n, the falling rate would also multiply with the same value n.

Prove: Let pulling rate ,dx/dt = 1.000 ms-1 be the initial pulling rate and the value that was obtained for falling rate when dx/dt is 1.000 ms-1 be the initial falling rate. When the initial pulling rate is multiplied by 2, we can see that the falling rate was obtained is the same value as the initial falling rate being multiplied by the same value of 2 for any value of X and H.

4 As the pulling rate is increased by approximately 1 ms-1 , the falling rate of the ladder would experience an increasing rate. Mathematical Support

5 TASK 3 When p = dx/dt = 1.00 ms-1 and X = 4m dh/dt = -1.346 ms-1 H = 3.000 m Time taken for by the ladder to fully lie on the ground, tg = 1.121 s As the maximum length that the ladder can occupy on the ladder is 5 m, and the pulling rate being 1.000 ms-1 , the base of the ladder can move from its original position, which is 4 m from the wall to the maximum length 5 m it approximately 1 second. Average velocity = 3.000/1.121 = 2.676 ms-1

TASK 4 Sliding rate, P = 3.995 ms-1 Falling rate = 1.003 ms-1 H = 4.854 m X = 1.217 m Time = 0.959 s From the data that was produced, H = 4X

6 3.2 LIMITATIONS When the top of the ladder is very close to floor, the falling rate is undefined according to the simulation program. Theoretically, it is not undefined as there is still a value of time the ladder took to reach the floor completely. The simulation program assumed it is undefined as the value is too little and is approaching zero. Anything divided by zero would be undefined, thus the falling rate is put as undefined. The second limitation of this simulation program is that the values of X and H cannot be put exactly as the value that we want. Both values of X and H is put approximately to the value that is wanted. Thus, the data produced may not be accurate. 3.3 REFINEMENTS Instead of using the dragging of the red dot to control the value of the pulling rate method, the simulation program should allow the researcher to key in the exact value of any variable that he or she wants. By using this new method, a more accurate and consistent value could be obtained.


Based on the investigation that was carried out on the Falling Ladder Problem, relationships between the variables can be obtained. The relationships can be used to determine the safest position the ladder can be, how fast it may fall and how does the position of the ladder may affect the pulling rate or the sliding rate.

8 5.0 REFERENCES Paul Scholten, The Falling Ladder Paradox, The College Mathematics Journal, January 1996, Volume 27, pp. 49-54, <> National Science Foundation, Galileo: His experiment, viewed 8 May 2012, <> Lecture 16 Related rates, viewed 8 May 2012, < /L16/L16.pdf>