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Treadmill

While this site has much to offer readers with an interest in music, psychodrama and abandoned mental hospitals, it’s possible I’ve neglected any engineers and physicists among us. To remedy this mortifying oversight, here’s a little thought experiment, courtesy of Sam Hughes: 

A plane is standing on a runway that can move (like a giant conveyor belt). This conveyor has a control system that tracks the plane’s speed and tunes the speed of the conveyor, relative to the Earth, to be exactly the same (but in the opposite direction).

Now comes the question.

Will the plane be able to take off?

The answer isn’t quite as obvious as one might assume. Needless to say, a detailed pondering ensues.

Update: Because you know you secretly want to, How to Destroy the Earth

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