An airplane taxies in one direction on a moving conveyor belt going the opposite direction. Can the plane take off? http://www.straightdope.com/columns/060203.html
[via this Straight Dope hacked RSS feed I found]
Is the situation clear? A plane, 747 say, is put on a giant treadmill in such a way that the plane is stationary to an outside observer. The plane gets going faster and faster and the belt and wheels spin furiously, but the theoretically the plane is supposed to be able to take off. Supposedly the engines will pull the air backwards and allow the jet to takeoff normally.
Here’s a good case where some visualization would really help me believe this (I mean I guess I believe this to the extent that Cecil is a smart person(a) but I have doubts at the core my inner engineer). Sounds like a good job for the Mythbusters.