How fast do you need to drive in the rain to keep your rear window dry?

November 09, 2011 By: erik Category: Geeky, Math

Car Sketch - Rear Window AngleLast week, we had quite the deluge, which coincided, unfortunately, with me having to drive 120 km. I noticed that whenever I slowed down, the rear window would get wet and hard to see out of. Once I sped up again, one wiper pass dried it off and it stayed dry until I slowed down again. This is an obvious scenario for anyone who has ever driven, or anyone who thinks briefly about the physics involved: when you’re driving fast, the rain doesn’t hit your rear window. Out of the blue (or gray, in this case), my mouth spoke the words, “I wonder what’s the minimum speed I have to drive to keep the back window dry?” My wife immediately intuited that “it depends on the shape of the car”, by which she meant the angle of the rear window. This insight made the original question all the more interesting to me, because it gave me an equation to plot! Are you getting excited yet?
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Encounters with the Guardia Civil

August 22, 2011 By: erik Category: Complaining, Extremadura, Spain

Guardia CivilI had my third ever run-in with the traffic division of the Guardia Civil, Spain’s national police force, this past week. I was on my way out of Higuera de la Serena, the small town in Extremadura, southern Spain, where we spend a week each August drinking beer and complaining about the heat. Luckily, it was early in the day, before the day’s imbibing had begun. Before I explain what happened, let me briefly summarize my first Guardia Civil encounter, because the lessons it taught me came in handy this week.
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Spaniards Don’t Understand Roundabouts

August 05, 2011 By: erik Category: Complaining, Fighting Stupidity, Skepticism, Spain

RoundaboutThis rant has been near the surface for several years now, but a news report on television yesterday set me off, and I need to write it down to get it off my chest. Let me be clear. It’s not that Spaniards are stupid or generally bad drivers, the problem is that they are taught wrong at driving school! Believe me, I know, because I had to go to Spanish driving school to get my Spanish license.
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