What are the Physics of Bungee Jumping

What are the physics of bungee jumping? Can a bungee cord really hold a person's weight as they plunge from a bridge (or a volcano?)

The physics of bungee jumping are comprised of two major components; the gravitational potential energy of the jumper and the elastic potential of the bungee cord. The gravitational potential energy of you standing on the bridge is equal to the elastic potential of the bungee cord at the final stage of your jump. This is because the gravitational potential energy of you at the beginning stage of bungee jumps will not change even after you jump; it will simply change.

After you jump, you will be free falling. Your bungee cord must be able to absorb the kinetic energy of the fall. This is according to Hooke's Law, which states that the force an elastic object uses to go back to its original length after being stretched is relative to, but in the opposite direction, of the length the object is stretched.

At the very bottom of your bungee jump, at the end of the free fall, the bungee cord will be stretched to its maximum distance. The bungee jumping company you go to, as long as it is reputable and licensed, will take into account your weight and the distance you have to fall. This will determine the stiffness and free length of the bungee cord you will use.

If the force of your jump is too great, Hooke's law won't apply. There is a limit to the elasticity of an object, known as the plastic region. If the object, in this case the bungee cord, stretches past the elastic limit into the plastic region, it will be unable to return to its original size. That's why it's important to choose the right cord before you jump. Now that you can answer the question "what are the physics of bungee jumping?" do you think you're ready to give it a try?

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