Mass. Velocity. Acceleration. These are the variables of the science of physics, which is so important to cars. In the days before cars were invented, people had horse-powered transportation—literally a horse-drawn carriage. The ‘S’ in STEAM is for science, and today, the branch of science called physics has allowed scientists and engineers to create faster, cheaper, and safer cars that are also really enjoyable. PERFORMANCE VARIABLES Lots of drivers feel the need for speed. When thinking of a performance vehicle, most people think of a fast car. How do manufacturers make fast cars? What factors influence a car’s speed? How have automobile manufacturers used science to advance cars? Physics in automobiles comes down to two forces: horsepower and drag. These are opposing forces, meaning they work against each other. Even when a car is moving very slowly, some amount of energy is still needed to move the car through the air. SCIENCE IN AUTOMOBILES CHAPTER 1


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