The jerk and the vertical fall of a shuttlecock

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Jerk, the derivative of acceleration with respect to time, is a physical concept of great practical significance. However, this concept is rarely mentioned in textbooks and is often neglected in physics education. This paper describes how the concept of jerk can be easily introduced in the study of the dynamics of falling bodies, which are significantly affected by air resistance. In this regard, the vertical fall of two different feather shuttlecocks, a standard and a miniature one, is studied. In this simple vertical fall experiment, air resistance is significant and measurable, implying that the acceleration changes, and thus, the jerk can be determined. The velocity, acceleration, and jerk measurements with time during the vertical fall are described and compared with those from different standard air resistance models. The proposed setup can help initiate a discussion of well-known basic physics concepts and modeling approaches, such as displacement, velocity, acceleration, and particularly the often-neglected jerk concept.
Original languageEnglish
Article number055804
JournalEuropean Journal of Physics
Issue number5
Early online date2022 Jul 20
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Physics Topics


  • Vertical fall
  • Air drag
  • Terminal Velocity
  • Jerk
  • Shuttlecock
  • Modeling


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