If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 8 February 2010

Fear of falling

If you're like me, and 'not too good' with heights, you won't want to read this:

How to Fall 35,000 Feet - And Survive
You're six miles up, alone and falling without a parachute. Though the odds are long, a small number of people have found themselves in similar situations—and lived to tell the tale. Here's PM's 120-mph, 35,000-ft, 3-minutes-to-impact survival guide.

Interesting read, although the author doesn't seem to be too clear on the effect of weight on terminal velocity. As a heightophobic, I read the entire piece through clenched eyelids.

H/t to my scientific friend.


  1. thanks for dropping by my blog, Richard. The motorbike thing is interesting. My grandfather wrote a book, in the early sixties,when he was a journalist on MCN, called "How to start motorcycling". Those new Japanese jobs were just becoming available then.

    Many happy Sundays were spent at Cadwell Park.

  2. One of the best days of my life was spent at Cadwell - I will write it up on the blog one day. I love the old motorcycling books, though. I have one from the early 50s called 'Motorcycles And How To Manage Them', which is a complete scream. I'll have to post some extracts for the delectation of the cognoscenti :)

    'These new Japanese jobs' - heh.

  3. Weight per se does not affect terminal velocity: consider Galileo's experiment at Pisa.....

  4. Exactly. The writer was asking why children had a better chance of surviving a fall, and concluded that, amongst other things, "lower body weight reduces terminal velocity". Of course it doesn't. What he perhaps meant to say was that children have a greater surface area per kilo of weight compared to adults and, as aerodynamic drag is a significant factor in slowing you down, they will be travelling more slowly.

    JBS Haldane, in an essay On Being The Right Size:

    "You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away. A rat would probably be killed, though it can fall safely from the eleventh story of a building, a man is broken, a horse splashes."


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