You may also like

problem icon

High Jumping

How high can a high jumper jump? How can a high jumper jump higher without jumping higher? Read on...

problem icon


A ball whooshes down a slide and hits another ball which flies off the slide horizontally as a projectile. How far does it go?

problem icon

Escape from Planet Earth

How fast would you have to throw a ball upwards so that it would never land?

Lunar Leaper

Age 16 to 18 Challenge Level:

Andaleeb of Woodhouse Sixth Form College sent in this correct solution. He takes account of the fact that pole vaulters only have to lift their center of gravity to roughly the height of the bar in order to clear it. Another correct solution was received from Christopher of Sidcup, Kent.

Since the man is 2m tall, his centre of mass is roughly 1m from the ground.

Let $h =$ height from the centre of mass to the highest point of clearing. Then on the Earth, $h = 5 - 1 = 4$ metres. Using conservation of energy, we get: $$\frac{1}{2}mv^2 = 4mg$$ where $v$ is the linear velocity moving horizontally only. Thus $$v^2 = 8g$$ Since the man is moving horizontally only (no vertical component of velocity is present) his velocity is not affected by gravity. Thus, $$v_{Earth} = v_{moon}$$ Applying conservation of energy on the moon, we get:
\begin{eqnarray} \frac{1}{2}m(8g) &=& m\frac{g}{6}h \\ \Rightarrow h &=& 24. \\ \end{eqnarray}
Thus on the moon, the pole vaulter can clear a pole of height 24 + 1 = 25m.