P5_3 ”When This Baby Hits 88 Miles Per Hour...”

Thomas Cox, Lara Mead, Keaton Penn Fernandez, Joshua Seagrave


In this paper we examine the key physical aspects required for a car to ignite Asphalt by drivingover the surface, as seen in the highly popular 1985 film ”Back to the Future”. We calculated theenergy transferred through the tyres to the road, and found that the car dissipates around 40 % ofthe energy required to ignite the road surface. Subsequently, we concluded that to create the fieryvisuals as seen in the film the car would have to undergo instantaneous acceleration equivalent to136 G-force.

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