Thank yous, homecomings and projectile poo

Since we announced the arrival of little Felicity last week, we’ve been flooded with wonderful messages of excitement, congratulation and support from all over the world. To all of you from Ireland, the UK, France, Estonia, Switzerland, Germany, Sudan, the US, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and all over

Family portrait

NZ, a huge thank you for all the love you’ve shown us! So many of you have made a great contribution to our little little family – be it the many many gifts from our friends and neighbours here, the freezer full of food from my mother, the great cotton products from family in India, a donated Oxfam ‘birth assistant’ from Karen, gentle encouragement and advice from Rebekah and Aimee, Serena and Dennis visiting with a care package from Australia and great grandmotherly encouragement from both sides of The Tasman to name just a few. And to the hundreds who’ve read our last post, a real huge thank you to you all!

Settling into a routine here at home has been a bit of an adventure. If I was writing this three days ago I’d be wondering when the hard stuff begins. Now I know. Felicity was pretty settled for the first week – sleeping

Reading her first book

well, and spending her waking hours quietly reading or listening to classical music. I think Vivaldi is her favourite and Tchaikovsky is her least favorite. She would have about 20mins a day of ‘witching’ when she cried inconsolably, but was fine the rest of the time.  But the last three days or so have been a little different. We’re not sure if it was the cannon fire in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture or the rocket-fuel flavored curry that Nuala ate, poisoning the milk supply. But now, all of a sudden she’s trying to set some new rules i.e cry at non-designated times of the day (whats with that!?), and struggle to settle herself when it’s sleep time. Lets see how it works out over the next week or so…

I’ll end this post with a physics problem. A few days ago, just after mopping the floor, having a bucket ‘shower’ and laying out a new nappy ready for a change, Nuala and I were standing at the foot of the change

What hand?? I swear I never saw a hand.

table pondering our  next move. The telltale sound of a squelch triggered our instinctive reactions and we leaped aside just as a stream of projectile poo thundered forth from the little angel and scored a direct hit on the clean floor, the clean nappy and clean parents. After much laughter I got out my measuring tape and measured the horizontal distance traveled by the projectile – 1130mm.  The table height is 1000mm. Using basic kinematic equations, can you calculate the initial velocity of the projectile at the moment it left the launching mechanism? Assume that gravity is 9.81m/s². Assume that the baby was lying perfectly horizontal at the time of firing. Assume that air-resistance is negligible. Answers in SI units to 3 significant figures. Post answers as a comment to this post (explanations of your working are very welcome)

The first correct answer will receive an honorable mention next time along with the winner of baby sweepstake.

That book was hard work - let me sleep on it

Nuala in the firing line

8 thoughts on “Thank yous, homecomings and projectile poo

  1. Hi Andrew, thanks for the chance to feel like a scientist as well as a mum 🙂 Have to admit I had to look up the equations though.

    I get v(i) = 2.50 m/s. I won’t post any working to let someone else have a go. 🙂

  2. Hiya! Just realised that I’ve failed to actually post a comment until today! We’ve been thinking of you loads and following your posts closely. As I’ve said before, we’re so thrilled that Felicity and Nuala are doing well since the birth. Felicity is one of the most adorable newborns I’ve seen (seriously) so please continue to post pics! Once again a big congratuations and good luck on the continuing adventure of parenthood! Love, H

  3. Is that a Thai alphabet chart by the change table? Very cool. I’m not sure that I can remember enough of my bursary physics to enter the competition, but I’m keen to read how everyone else works it out.

  4. I decided to take up your physics challenge Andrew, partly because the inner nerd in me loves such a challenge, and partly because I am about to start a new engineering job after being out of the engineering game for over a year, and I thought this problem would be good to get my brain working again in preparation for the new job. Turns out I am quite rusty!!
    Anyway, the answer I came up with (in SI units with 3s.f.) was an initial velocity of 2.50m/s. Hopefully this is right, otherwise I might have to rethink my new career…!
    In case I didn’t get it, here’s my working, so you can point out where I went wrong:
    As deceleration due to air friction was negligible, I assumed constant horizontal velocity. Therefore initial V(horizontal) = distance/time = 1.13m/t. To get t I calculated how long the projectile poo would take to drop 1m using the equations V^2 = U^2 +2as and V=u + at (a=9.81m/s2, s(distance)=1, U(initial velocity)=0) I solved the first eqn for V, and the second eqn for t, giving the poo 0.451secs before it hit the floor. V(horizontal) is therefore 1.13/0.4515 = 2.50m/s. That is some propellant force that Felicity exerted on the poo 😉

  5. My Asian history degree has not prepared me for your math problems, but it has prepared me to offer the following advice: when in Asia, get out of the way of projectile poo.

    You’re welcome.

  6. That is pretty impressive for an initial velocity. Now, if you take into account air resistance, it was probably a bit higher.. Shame you didn’t weigh the projectile. If you had, you could have calculated the energy it possessed and therefore the minimum thickness of the Kevlar suit required to change her next time.

  7. I too got 2.50 m/s but my main concern is that, if wee Felicity sneezes next time she’s on the changing table, the aforementioned ejecta could reach orbital velocity. At that stage we may have a problem (Houston).

  8. Haha! Classic – Katy and me were laughing out loud. You guys sound like you are attacking parenthood with the same enthusiasm and sense of humor that you approach the rest of life with! Thought we’d let you know that we have completed our trip through the Middle East – UAE, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordon, Israel, Palestine, Egypt – and we had a fantastic time! Iran has to be our favorite out of these if we had to choose one – you were not wrong that these must be among the freindliest people on earth. We owe a few of them postcards, come to think of it – there’s a job for this afternoon. If you are on facebook, look me up on We have posted a bunch of photos of our trip which may bring back some memories for you guys. Cheers, Tom.

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