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PHYSICS, FTW! Dmitri Krioukov, a physicist at UCSD, gets off a $400 traffic ticket by publishing a persuasive paper, "Proof of Innocence".

Arguing in court, he explained that the officer who issued him a ticket for driving through a red light had his sense of perception deceived by combination of three circumstances which induced a physical phenomena: "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.”

I love his concluding sentence, "As a result of this unfortunate coincidence, the O's perception of reality did not properly reflect reality". The judge must have been impressed by the graphs in his Popular Physics (free) publication: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1204.0162v1.pdf
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44 comments
 
I love it. You rock, professor!
 
lol, As a result of this unfortunate coincidence, the O's perception of reality did not properly reflect reality. This is often the case, in my limited experience ;)
 
He was quite gracious in his paper: "In summary, police officer O made a mistake, confusing the real space time trajectory of car...blah blah physics speak...However, this mistake is fully justified.. more awesome gobbledygook ". Lol.
 
More gems from the paper: "The author/defendant (D.K.) was driving Toyota Yaris (car C1 in the diagram), which is one of the shortest cars available on the market. Its length is l1 = 150 in. (Perhaps only the Smart Cars are shorter?) The exact model of the other car (C2) is unknown, but it was similar in length to Subaru Outback, whose exact length is l2 = 189 in."
 
Well, his argument worked The judge was convinced, and the officer was convinced as well. His math and physical description swayed the judge, or maybe the judge was simply impressed by the sheer dedication Krioukov poured into avoiding this ticket.
 
The judge must have felt scientific proof is refreshing.
 
This is hysterical (and geeky cool too of course), but I would find it even more interesting and impressive if the officer's perceptions of reality were, in fact, accurate, and the judge was snowed because he didn't understand the explanation and then assumed it must be true. (Note to non-scientists: understanding science and methodology is important.)
 
Although we may have a sneaky suspicion that O's perception matched reality, unless this thesis is disproved, it could well be true :)
 
Also remember the paper was published on April Fool's Day.
 
The published article is from Physics Central, on the arXiv server. I found this exchange on a physics blog, "I noticed that the paper was posted on April Fool's Day, so it definitely seemed a little fishy. When I spoke with Krioukov over the phone, however, he seemed to provide a few details about the court case that made the story sound quite plausible.". The LA times published an interview with Krioukov today, so it would certainly be odd for a Fool's Day prank to be dragged out so long. See: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/04/ucsd-scientist-evades-400-traffic-ticket-with-research-paper-.html

Curiouser and curiouser :)
 
The Proof of Innocence. "Physics works!" — Walter Lewin :)
 
That's brilliant...much better than the arguments i had in my last traffic stop. :-D
 
+Gnotic Pasta , I did win an argument in traffic court over an alleged red light stop. The funny part of the whole thing was when the judge asked the police officer what his side of the story was, the guy said, "She argued with me"! Huh? I could see my husband lol'ing over this (in that case, I would get tickets all the time).
 
What's the story with Andre Geim?
 
lol! i bet that was a fun argument to watch! Mine was a bit simpler...i never went to court..i convinced the sheriff deputy that i would fight his allegations all the way to court and he let me off with a warning. supposedly running a stop sign on new years day at 06:00 in the morning.
 
Wow, I remember the graphene Nobel and the levitating frog IgNobel but never put them together. Thanks, +Roman Shcherbakov :)
 
It's all about stage presence...lol...plus i pulled my own ace....shhhhh..secret
 
What ace, Dan? I won't tell anyone else :) +Feisal Kamil , that's why we need to see those college pics that you pretend are missing!
 
Hmmm....let's just say i played on his sense of patriotism along with making him feel guilty..... :-D
 
Ahh, you had on your uniform didn't you!! :)
 
Nope...but i did have my military ID handy...didn't flash it, but let it hang out when i was handing my drivers license over...i was actually pretty annoyed that he pulled me over as i knew that i had not broken any traffic laws ( i seen him ahead of time) He asked if i was in, and that changed the course of the conversation. :-) it was still a bit argumentative, but he let me go.
 
Nicely done! No physics paper needed :)
 
it worked out in my favor, but it would have been nice to use this physics piece on him...lol...just to see the look on his face!
 
Wish i could do that each time i get caught breaking a signal.. :-)
 
wait wait...there is a story here....spill it Feisal
 
Does it involve an afro? :)
 
last time i checked... atleast four times.. but hey.. its Mumbai.. peak traffic hours.. what else can i do?? :-P
PS: i would also like to point out that i was caught only once out of the four times :-D
 
My solution? Don't drive cars.

I lived in a place once where I had to have a car. My home was far enough from my work, but my boyfriend's was even farther. So when I stayed overnight at his place, I would be in a mad dash to get to work on time so one bleary morning I speeded (a bit).

I had just happen to read the previous day about how to handle getting speeding tickets which is basically to admit you were speeding and to give no excuses. I did that and then the officer wrote out the ticket very solemnly matching my own solemness. When finished he gave a funny twist to his mouth (think it was a smile) and said, because of your honesty I marked your transgression in the lower speeding zone, therefore lessening the cost of your ticket by half. Trying not to laugh, I thanked him and slowly drove away (at half speed).
 
I would SO love to live somewhere where I didn't need a car! Sadly, southern California ain't it.
 
Flawless physics but idiosyncratic syntax: "... induced a physical phenomena" (sic).
 
+John Condliffe , English is not this author's native language. I caught several errors in the reading of his paper, even fixed a couple in my quotes above.
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