Penny In Free Fall

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Have you ever wondered what would happen if a penny was to fall off the top of the Empire State Building and hit someone on their head? It seems that this occurrence may be deadly. Infact , there are many who believes that at a fall from that high an altitude, 1,259 feet (381 meters) not including the antenna spire, a penny has the ability to cause a serious injury or even kill pedestrian down below. Well in order to cause such damages, this would be the case if the penny was in free fall. Yet this is not true because factors such as air resistance play a significant role in restricting the penny's acceleration. Therefore, due to air resistance, friction in the air, a falling penny on Earth can not truly free fall. Free fall is defined as the …show more content…

The pennies, however, would be slowed down by air resistance and would not gain any more speed. For example, in a significant article regarding how pennies fall, it states, “The pennies ‘reach terminal velocity and no matter how high we put the balloon, they never picked up any more speed’” (Stossel, Binkley 2). This was derived from a test where pennies were dropped by a balloon from hundreds of feet high and proved that no matter where the balloon was, the pennies didn’t pick up any more speed. Terminal velocity is the maximum speed a falling object reaches and is determined by the object's weight and air resistance (Stossel, Binkley 2). As a result, a penny is never truly in freefall since air resistance is working against the force of gravity and for an object to free fall, acceleration of gravity, is the sole factor that should be acting on the object. In this case, it's a penny. Another example in the text states, “Even though we didn’t go as high as the Empire State Building, it doesn’t matter. The penny will hit full speed after 50 feet or so, and it just coasts” (Stossel, Binkley 2). This shows that even at the highest altitude, a the penny will fall to the ground with a slow terminal velocity. A penny that is dropped from the Empire State Building can not, therefore, be a deadly …show more content…

These factors include the size and shape of the object. For example, the shape and size of paper of a rock differs from that of paper. But paper, because of it shape and size, would float down slower with more air resistance than the rock which has less air resistance. For example, in a well known article on the fall of an object, states, “More massive objects will only fall faster if there is an appreciable amount of air resistance present” (The Big Misconception 1). This shows the fall of an object does not care about mass but size and shape. An object on earth can not truly free-fall on earth because air resistance can amongst all objects no matter how miniscule and if there is friction pushing a body or an object the opposite direction than the downward acceleration due to gravity, then it can not be free, not under the control of another, falling. Therefore, the size and shape can also be factors affect how an object falls which on Earth, can not truly

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