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Physicist avoids $400 traffic ticket with mathematical argument


Undated portrait taken in Princeton, NJ, of German-born Swiss-US physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955), author of theory of relativity, at the blackboard.

A physicist from the University of California-San Diego has gotten out of paying a $400 traffic ticket by writing a mathematical paper that convinced a judge that he may not have run a stop sign as charged, CBS News reported. Instead, the scientist's four-page paper argues with the help of graphs and equations, a confluence of factors made the police officer think they saw him break the rules of the road when, in fact, he did not.

According to Wired, physicist Dmitri Krioukov wrote: “[In this paper], we show that if a car stops at a stop sign, an observer, e.g., a police officer, located at a certain distance perpendicular to the car trajectory, must have an illusion that the car does not stop, if the following three conditions are satisfied: (1) The observer measures not the linear but angular speed of the car; (2) The car decelerates and subsequently accelerates relatively fast; and (3) There is a short-time obstruction of the observer’s view of the car by an external object, e.g., another car, at the moment when both cars are near the stop sign.”

In his case, Krioukov claimed, as he neared the stop sign, he sneezed and braked sharply, CBS News reported. A car passing at that moment obscured the view of his car from a police officer parked 100 feet away from the stop sign. Because Krioukov accelerated quickly after stopping, it made it seem to the police officer that he had been driving at the same speed all along.

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Not satisfied with avoiding a fine, Krioukov has published his paper on a public Cornell University server and challenged other physicists and mathematicians to find a flaw in his proof, CNET reported.

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