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To calculate how fast anything is travelling you need to know 'how far' it is travelling and 'how much time' it is taking to do it. Divide the 'how far' by the 'how much time' and you get the speed.

 
If I travel 30kms and it took me 2 hours to reach my destination how fast was I travelling?   This is Pi - It's the shorthand symbol for 3.14. Dividing a circle's circumference by it's diameter results in Pi - This happens with every circle and is equal to about 3.14 - try it out and see if it works!

Now you know how to work out how fast an object is travelling, you might be able to work out how fast our 'bug' is travelling as he sunbathes on the Earth's equator.

 
Image of a bug on a spinning Earth

How fast is a bug sunbathing on the Earth's equator moving in space?

 

'How far' = x diameter of Earth, which comes to about 40,000 km
'How much time' - 1 day is almost 24 hours
Divide the 'how far' by the 'how much time' and you'll get the answer.

 

Here’s the answer mouse over arrow

But what about the same bug sitting in London? Be careful on this one, because the circle the bug travels isn't the same size as at the equator, but is a smaller circle. (Hint: the latitude of London is about 52°.)

 

'How far' = x diameter of circle travelled, which comes to about 24,500 km
'How much time' - 1 day is almost 24 hours
Divide the 'how far' by the 'how much time' and you'll get the speed.

 

Here’s the answer mouse over arrow

     

Spinning Basketball

 

We’ve just worked out that a bug on the Earth's equator is travelling at almost 1,700 km/hr.
How quickly (in rotations per second) would we need to spin a basket ball for a bug on the ball’s ‘equator’ to travel at the same speed as our 'Earth-equator bug'?

 

 
     
   

 

   
 
 

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