Friday, September 10, 2010

Falling lessons

Falling is weird.

I did not fall seven stories. I did not fall the equivalent of 50+ feet and smash the equivalent of 135 pounds of flesh and bone and blood and guts and brains against the carpet. I fell about five feet and hit w/ a little over two ounces.

I reached the ground much sooner than I would have thought. It takes about a half-second to fall five feet and almost two seconds to fall seven stories, regardless of your size. So my speed on hitting the floor was about 12 miles per hour instead of close to 40 mph.

 Additionally, my terminal velocity is about one-tenth of a normal-sized human's ~200km/h, so I wouldn't have reached 40 mph anyway.

The following is taken from "On Being the Right Size" by J. B. S. Haldane:
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, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes. For the resistance presented to movement by the air is proportional to the surface of the moving object. Divide an animal’s length, breadth, and height each by ten; its weight is reduced to a thousandth, but its surface only to a hundredth. So the resistance to falling in the case of the small animal is relatively ten times greater than the driving force.
Of course, I realized none of this at the time. All I knew was that I fell a humongous distance, hit the floor, bounced slightly, and I was a little bruised but basically unhurt.

But I quickly figured out two things.

First of all, I need not fear heights.

Second, everything else did not grow ten times its normal size. The world was normal.

I had truly shrunk.

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