Thursday, September 14, 2006

Juggle 101: Part 1

I thought it was time for a "fun" post. I will smatter these in every now and again. We all need a little fun in our lives to break the monotony of life. So you juggle just about everything: work, life, people, and commitments…why not learn how to really juggle? You can improve your motor skills, hand-eye coordination, social skills, and reduce stress.

If you didn’t know already, I am what I would call an amateur juggler. I know just enough to be dangerous, and just enough to be truly impressed by technical tricks that don’t look all that difficult, but really are.

Before you get started: you will need 3 objects to practice with. I will base this on ball/beanbag juggling. (Scarf juggling has a little bit different of a theory to go with it) I suggest getting beanbags or some other object that will not roll away when you drop it. Typically the perfect size and weight for most people is a tennis ball, so base it off of that. If you have rather small hands hacky sacks work well. You will need to be able to hold 2 "balls" in your hand at one time. You want something that has a little weight to it. So stay away from light things such as ping-pong balls, styrofoam balls, and the hollow plastic balls. Here after I will call the items you will be working with "balls" no matter if it’s a beanbag or hacky sack or whatever.

Location: You will probably want to find a location to learn that does not have breakable things around. Even if you think, "I can’t possibly hit that lamp that’s behind me," you would be wrong. Stranger throws have happened. The prime place would be to stand over a couch so you do not have to bend over to pick up the missed balls. Also a good place is to stand relatively close to a wall. This will help to keep your throws in one plane. AKA you won’t be throwing away from yourself.

Now for the theory: This is after all a website that mainly the mathematical/engineering/ programming type people stumble across so I thought some background would be helpful. Juggling is in its simplest form projectile motion. (And you thought physics wasn’t fun?!) Don’t worry I won’t bore you here, you can skip this portion if you’d like.

We will assume that x is in the horizontal direction, y is in the vertical direction, as I stated z = 0 since juggling occurs in one plane. If you want to work this out, assume y is positive going up, x is positive going to the right, and all distances are in meters. t = time, x0 = x at t=0, y0 = y at t=0, V = velocity, theta = the angle the ball is thrown at, g = gravity (9.8 m/sec^2).

The first equation: x(t) = x0 + V*cos(theta)*t
The second equation: y(t) = y0 + V*sin(theta)*t – (1/2)*g*t^2

If you were going to actually do calculations, you would solve the first equation for t and then plug into the second equation. If you knew t then you could solve for the x-y coordinates and map the path of the projectile.

I have written a program in the past to do this, so if there is a high request for it I can elaborate further. (Plus I’d have to go and dig out my notes and find a computer that could run it).

Ok, I seem to have gotten a little long winded, so I will break this up into sections. In the mean time go scout out a good location, some good objects to juggle, and do a couple of calculations! Just kidding on the last one there.

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