This morning when I woke up, there was snow on the ground. My first thought was I should have gone to school in the south, then my second thought was questioning what I should wear, given the fact that it is snowy, cold, and most likely slippery outside. And then, because physics has to do with everything in our lives, I thought about the physics behind wearing good shoes in the snow.
I chose my winter boots because I know form experience that I am less likely to slip and fall when I have them on. But why is that? In order to not slip I would have to have enough force of static friction with the ground. The material used to make the sole of the shoe would determine its coefficient of static friction, and some materials would result in more resistance to slipping. Therefore, one could assume that the material my winter boots are made out of have a higher coefficient of static friction then my leather booties or keds.
This is something I should have thought about more in high school. When I was a senior, anxiously awaiting my college acceptance letters in late March, I would check the mail after school every day. Just a few days before being accepted to Colgate, I put on my Steve Madden tall leather boots and headed out to the mailbox. Next thing I remember was standing up next to my mailbox, I do not remember walking out there or falling. I got the mail and on my way back inside, realized my tooth was broken. When I went into the bathroom inside my house to look at it, I realized my scarf was completely soaked in blood. Two layers of 8 stitches and a concussion diagnosis later, I now realize that although stylish, tall leather boots are not what I should wear in March in Minnesota – there isn’t enough friction between them and the ground.