Scientist uses physics to beat $400 ticket

Dmitri Krioukov
Dmitri Krioukov Dmitri Krioukov

(CBS News) It's no apple falling from a tree, but one scientist may have discovered something just as groundbreaking: how to get out of a traffic ticket using physics. After receiving a $400 ticket for allegedly running a stop sign, Dmitri Krioukov invoked the laws of physics to fight the charge. The University of California, San Diego physicist drafted a four-page paper in his defense, arguing that the police officer mistakenly thought he ran a stop sign due to a unique combination of effects.

Krioukov's paper - complete with graphs and equations - attempted to explain that the police offer, parked 100-feet away from the stop sign, was approximating his angular velocity rather than his linear velocity. Basically, the physicist argued that a vehicle traveling at a constant speed could look similar to a vehicle quickly decelerating and just as quickly re-acceleration as long as the observer's view was obscured.

As it happens, Krioukov argued that scenario was exactly what happened.

Krioukov defense
One of many graphs Krioukov used in his defense Dmitri Krioukov

Driving his Toyota Yaris, Krioukov was approaching a stop sign when he sneezed, causing him to abruptly step on the brakes. At that moment, the police officer's view was obscured by a different passing car. Krioukov quickly accelerated after stopping, and to the officer's vision it appeared that Krioukov never stopped at all.

That relatively simple explanation took up four, math-intensive pages in Krioukov's defense.

The judge was apparently won over by this unique argument and dismissed the ticket.

"The judge was convinced, and the officer was convinced as well," Krioukov told PhysicsCentral.

But like any true scientist, Krioukov offered his paper up to peer review, challenging anyone with enough physics knowledge to find a flaw in his argument.