Best Graphs from 2019

It’s a tradition. At the end of the year, I like to post “top” stuff. Here are my best graphs. I’m only going to share graphs that I created with—although there are some other ones out there. So, maybe I should say “best graphs of 2019”.

Oh, you haven’t used plot.y? That’s OK. Plotly, is an online graphing platform. It’s pretty nice. The thing I really like is that you can create some data in python (with Glowscript) and send it over to plotly for beautification.

One last thing. I don’t yet know how many “best” graphs I have—I haven’t looked yet. Also, these are in no particular order.

What ball is the best to catch with during free fall?

Here is the graph.

The graph is from this post— The idea was to consider what ball would be best to pass back and forth while skydiving.

Modeling a Moon Run

Here is the graph.

This is from my post looking at the physics of running on the moon. Actually, I really like this stuff. I built a model of a running human in which the final running speed depends on the foot contact time with the ground. I really just made the model so that I could use it for this moon running post.

Oh, bonus—here is my python code for the running model.

All the Jedi Force Jumps

Here is the graph.

If you look at all the jumps (in all the Star Wars movies) you can measure two things—jump height and jump time. Assuming there is a constant acceleration (not necessarily true) then there is a relationship between time and height.

a = \frac{2\Delta y}{(\Delta t)^2}

So, by plotting twice the height by time squared, the slope of the line would give the vertical acceleration. In the graph above, the green line is for an acceleration of 9.8 m/s^2 (the value on Earth) and the red line is the average for all the Jedi. Notice that Yoda has a greater acceleration. I think that’s cool.

Oh, bonus video. Here are all the Jedi jumps.

Comparison of quadratic curve fitting

In a [previous post](, I talked about how to plot kinematics data with a spread sheet and how to fit a quadratic function to the data. In the back of my head I remember “Don’t trust Excel”. I seem to recall someone claiming that Excel did not do a proper fit. To test this, I collected some data and used several methods to fit the data:

  • MS Excel’s built in function fitting
  • Using the spread sheet (Excel) to manually calculate the best fit parameters
  • Vernier’s Logger Pro (version 3.6.1)
  • Plot 0.997 – – a program derived from Sci-Plot

I already discussed how to add a quadratic fit in Excel using the built in tools. Perhaps later I will also discuss Logger Pro and Plot. But how do you come up with a function to fit data? The basic idea is to create a quadratic function and vary the parameters such that the deviation of the actual data from the function is minimized. That is much detail as I want to go into except for the following two links that I used:

Continue reading “Comparison of quadratic curve fitting”

Basics: Making graphs with kinematics stuff part II

**pre-reqs**: [kinematics]( *I don’t think you need [part I of this]( if you don’t want*

So, you still want to make a graph with that kinematics data? You think that graphs on paper are too barbaric? Well, if you are ready, you can use a spreadsheet. But be careful. If you don’t know what you are doing, you can cause some damage (much like flying a 747 after reading a blog about it). Speadsheets allow you to do a couple of things.

  • make pretty graphs
  • fit mathematical functions to data

Of course they actually do much more – but you need [“clippy”]( to help you with that.

First, what software do you use? I think most people will immediately go for Microsoft Excel. I have to admit, this is what I use because I am so familiar with it. Many people already have this also. Truthfully, it is a good spreadsheet program (but not perfect). There are some free alternatives:

  • Open Office – I use the Mac OS X variant Neo Office
  • Online spreadsheet like Zoho) or Google Docs. Both of these are fairly useable.
  • Other – like Apple’s spreadsheet or other non-free stuff.
  • A final excellent option is Vernier’s Logger Pro. Although it is not free (nor perfect) it is not too expensive and can be covered by a school site license

For this tutorial, I will show explicitly how to make graphs using MS Excel. I was going to use open office, but in order to fit a polynomial to data, you have to do some more serious stuff. The basic idea is the same no matter what you use.

Continue reading “Basics: Making graphs with kinematics stuff part II”

Basics: Making graphs with kinematics stuff

**pre reqs:** [kinematics](

Suppose there is some experiment in which you throw a ball up and collect position and time data (with video analysis). What do you do with this data? Your instructor told you to make a graph, but how do you do that?

Here is the fictional data you (or I) collected:


Here is the text file with the data if you want to reproduce the graphs I make here [kinematics data](

Continue reading “Basics: Making graphs with kinematics stuff”