London, Mar 8 (ANI): In a new study, researchers have debunked the urban myth that a penny thrown from a skyscraper could kill someone if it hits them on the head.
Louis Bloomfield from the University of Virginia used a wind tunnel to replicate a penny falling from a great height - and they actually fall more like a leaf than a torpedo.
The results show that air resistance combined with the penny's shape stops it from becoming a lethal weapon.
Its flatness increases air resistance to the extent that it would only reach a terminal velocity of 25mph on its way down - after 50 feet - with anyone in the firing line unlikely to feel any pain at all if they were struck by one.
If there was no air at all, a penny would hit 208mph and at that speed would be capable of inflicting serious injury, but even then it wouldn't be able to penetrate the skull.
Bloomfield placed himself in the firing line during his experiments, and reported a pain-free experience.
"I think one bounced off my face once," the Daily Mail quoted Bloomfield as telling the Scientific American.
"A penny is pretty much a little nothing. It's not a very compact object. It doesn't drill into you very well," he said.
However, a ballpoint pen may prove to be lethal.
Bloomfield pointed out that if one of those was chucked off a tall building it would easily be capable of killing someone, if it fell in a certain manner.
If it span, those below would be safe - but if it dropped like an arrow it could reach 200mph and at that speed is easily capable of chipping a pavement or putting a hole in a wooden board.
"You wouldn't want it to hit your head," he said.
This experiment proves Galileo's law of free fall. That it's not an object's mass that determines how fast it falls, but its shape and the amount of air resistance it encounters. (ANI)
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