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Q & A: Bus Jumping with Vince Carter

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Most recent answer: 08/11/2009
so if vince carter is standing at the front of a bus that’s going really really fast and jumps really really high... will he land at the back (or at least somewhere in the middle)of the bus?
- ed (age 12)
brooklyn, ny, usa
Ed -

Well, this would depend on whether Ed is standing inside the moving bus or on the ground in front of the bus. Since I can't quite tell which you mean, I'll answer both questions.

If Vince is on the ground in front of the bus then the answer will depend on just how fast 'really really fast' is for the bus and just how high 'really really high' is for Vince. While Vince is up in the air, the bus is moving underneath him. If the bus is going too fast, then it will move all the way out from under him before he comes down. Similarly, if he jumps too high, then by the time he comes down again, the bus may already be out of the way. But if he managed to get his jump to just the right height and/or the bus was going at just the right speed, then... sure, Vince could land on the bus.

Whether or not he could stay on the bus is a whole 'nother issue. This is because the bus has momentum going forwards and Vince doesn't. So even after he's landed on the bus, the bus could still 'drive out from under him', making him slide off the back.

If Vince is standing in the bus when he jumps this means he is moving with the same velocity as the bus when he jumps, and will land exactly where he started from on the bus (unless the velocity of the bus happens to change while Vince is in the air).


(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-Up #1: wind in bus

The answer to the second part of your responce depends on at which angle Vince jumps. If you consider wind resistance, then Vince Carter if he jumps straight up while on top of the bus would land slightly behind his starting position. To maintain a constant velocity there needs to be a force applied to the bus and Vince to balance the force of wind resistance. In this case, the bus is applying this force to Vince. Once Vince jumps, the bus is no longer able to impart this force on Vince and the wind resistance will decelerate Vince while the bus maintains constant velocity if the driver is using "cruise control". If Vince jumps up and slightly toward the direction of travel, then it is possible for him to land directly in his starting position.
- Tim McCollough (age 29)
Ames, IA
Unless it's an unusual bus, there will be little wind inside. In other words, the air inside the bus will be traveling along with it.  So there won't be any wind inside blowing Vince backward relative to the bus.  The only really major exception would be an open-roof bus.

Mike W.

(published on 08/11/2009)

Follow-up on this answer.