The Physics of Flying Trapeze

In this project, I will investigate some of the key principals involved in the trapeze. On a simple level, the trapeze is very similar to a playground swing, and as such can often be modelled as a simple pendulum. The word 'simple' here is misleading, as even though the motion of a pendulum is quite easy to approximate, it is actually very difficult to analyse analytically. Not only this, but when analysing human movement, you quickly come across the problem that people are not a fixed shape (they move limbs and bend their bodies). This means that it is often necessary to make very severe approximations in order to simplify calculations that would otherwise be impossibly complex. Despite these simplifications, we are able to draw some conclusions from our analysis that is directly applicable to the real world.

This project was written when I was in High School as part of some pre-work for my final exams. As with any scientific endeavour, I welcome comments or improvements.

Table of Contents

1 Energy changes in the swing
2 How can you change your swing?
3 The Swinging Trapeze
4 Timing for a catch
5 Dismounting
6 An Advanced Swing
7 Using Momentum
8 Forces on the Catcher
9 The Safety Lines
10 Introduction to Rotating Systems
11 Somersaults and Twisting
12 References