Tuesday, January 15, 2008

And Today's Lesson is: Applied Mathematics

----"How fast do you think they were going?" the policeman asked.
----"Haven't a clue," Michael said. "The author hasn't worked it out yet."

During the climax of novel 2, the goodie and the baddie race along a road. One of them overcooks it on a corner, and they both crash. I kept putting this scene aside because I want it to be realistic, but I couldn't work out the mechanics of the accident. How fast are they going? Which car loses it first? Does he spin or slide or roll? Which way does the car go after that?

I contacted the [get this] Road Policing Department Force Collision Investigation & Reconstruction Unit (someone just said "crash team" when he picked up the phone) and spoke to a really helpful chap!

It was a bit like going back school. He had an equation to work out the speed, but I had to decide how sharp the corner was. Well, I have a particular corner in mind, so with
the help of such modern technological marvels as Google Earth and photoshop, I found the value of r.
I already had values for µ and g, so I plugged all the numbers into the equation, and the answer was....

----Michael scratched the back of his neck. "About eighty, I should say."

So, I guess I could have just made that up...


Zinnia Cyclamen said...

That's fascinating. I wonder why he didn't say 'Road Policing Department Force Collision Investigation & Reconstruction Unit' when he picked up the phone, it's such a snappy little title I'm sure it would roll off the tongue. Did you make up that initial exchange of dialogue? Because it sounds just like Jasper Fforde. I love Jasper Fforde.

HelenMH said...

But if you'd just made it up it wouldn't have been NEARLY so authentic!!!

Lane said...

Good grief. I wouldn't even have known who to call!
That's an admirable piece of research. Did the crash team man ask why you wanted to know?

CTaylor said...

Laughs. That's great. Good on you for having the guts to call. I would have been two chicken and guessed a speed. At least no one can query the authenticity of your scene now!


That's brilliant! I love an excuse for a bit of research. My Google history is full of odd snippets. My husband asked me recently why I'd been looking at Male Escort sites!!! (It was for the book NATURALLY).

Lucy Diamond said...

Wow. That is an impressive bit of research. An equation and everything! You are clearly a pro!

Lily Sheehan said...

lol i think even if I

a) knew who to call
b) worked up the courage to call them

I would definately have hung up on hearing the guy say 'Crash Team'

That shows real dedication to your art. I feel very inspired to use my phone for better uses than texting!!

Leigh said...

Zinnia - Apparently, his job title is Road Policing Department Force Collision Investigator! Yes, I made up the dialogue. I must look up Jasper Fforde (and I must change my surname to Fforbes).

Helen - Quite right!

Lane - I did feel it necessary to admit to the reason for my call straightaway, and, bless him, he was delighted to help!

Cally - I was going to guess 85mph, but it was a fun exercise!

Lucy - I'm sure the pros have someone else do this stuff!

Lily - I have a great contact at a local police station who helped me out a while back. It was she who suggested I call them, and I could drop her name into the conversation which no doubt helped. But yes, the first call, eighteen months ago (before I knew her), was very hard!

JJ said...

Leigh you will definitely get published with the sirname Fforbes. Do you think it's cool to be Bbeattie? No, I thought not.