Physics professor Dmitri Krioukov beats traffic ticket with science

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Depiction of angular momentum

Physics professor Dmitri Krioukov successfully challenged a traffic ticket, using physics to prove a police officer couldn't have seen what he ticketed Krioukov for. Photo Credit: Qniemiec/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

There are only so many ways to get out of a traffic ticket, but a physics professor at the University of California San Diego used science. Dmitri Krioukov published a four-page paper demonstrating his innocence with physics.

Fighting The Man with science

According to the Daily Mail, a San Diego physics professor recently used his knowledge of science to beat a traffic ticket by demonstrating that the ticketing officer didn’t actually see him run a stop sign but rather saw something that could appear like it.

Dmiti Krioukov, a physics professor at the University of California, San Diego, was pulled over and fined $400 for running a stop sign. The officer that ticketed him was parked, perpendicularly, 100 feet away. Krioukov maintains that, due to a cold he had at the time, he sneezed and slammed on the brakes in his Toyota Yaris, stopping suddenly at the stop sign.

However, while stopping suddenly, a Subaru Outback stopped at the same stop sign at the same time. The Outback is a larger car than the Yaris, which obscured the officer’s view. The officer thus could not see that Krioukov had indeed stopped.

Paper had an angle

Krouikov, according to CNET, published the paper online in the Cornell University servers, opening it for public content and used it as evidence in court.

Firstly, according to Krioukov’s paper, the officer was visually observing the angular momentum of his vehicle rather than measuring linear velocity with some sort of instrument, such as a radar gun. Angular momentum is the momentum carried by an object as it orbits around a fixed point, in this case the stationary policeman. Speed cannot be measured well by observing it at an angle.

[It is easier than one might think to get a car loan, bad credit or otherwise]

Furthermore, Krioukov argues, in the instance of a sudden stop at a stop light along with a sudden acceleration off the line, it can appear to an observer that the car has barely or not stopped at all.

Because the officer’s view of the car was obstructed by the larger car next to Krioukov, the officer could not see that he had stopped. Thus, because the officers’ point of observation was not proper for a true observation of speed and his view was obstructed, the officer thus had a “perception of reality that did not properly reflect reality” and mistakenly believed Krioukov hadn’t stopped, when in fact he had. The officer and the judge in traffic court agreed and the ticket was dropped.

Do not attempt without a physics degree

Krioukov says the paper, titled “Proof of Innocence,” won a “special prize of $400 that the author did not have to pay to the state of California.” He is seeking peer review. Though it may have paid off for Krioukov, the layperson is likely to be less successful with the same argument.


Daily Mail


Proof of Innocence (PDF – Requires Adobe Reader)

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