How Dangerous is a Penny Dropped From a Skyscraper? | Summary and Q&A

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October 1, 2022
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Veritasium
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How Dangerous is a Penny Dropped From a Skyscraper?

TL;DR

Dropping a penny from the Empire State Building won't kill you due to air resistance and terminal velocity.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How does air resistance affect the speed and impact of falling objects?

Air resistance plays a crucial role in determining the terminal velocity and potential harm caused by falling objects. It counteracts the force of gravity, limiting the speed at which objects can fall and reducing their impact upon landing.

Q: What factors determine an object's terminal velocity?

An object's terminal velocity is determined by its weight, shape, and surface area. Heavier objects tend to have higher terminal velocities, while objects with larger surface areas experience greater air resistance and therefore reach terminal velocity more slowly.

Q: Can objects with better aerodynamics cause more harm when dropped from heights?

Yes, objects with better aerodynamics, such as baseballs or large hailstones, can reach higher terminal velocities and cause more harm when dropped from heights. Their streamlined shapes allow them to overcome air resistance more effectively, resulting in increased speed and impact upon landing.

Q: Why are pennies not as dangerous when dropped from tall buildings?

Pennies, due to their small size, irregular shape, and relatively low weight, experience significant air resistance and reach a terminal velocity of around 80 kilometers per hour. This limits their potential to cause serious harm when dropped from tall buildings.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The MythBusters and Derek Muller investigate whether pennies dropped from the Empire State Building can be deadly projectiles.

  • Pennies, due to air resistance, reach a terminal velocity of around 80 kilometers per hour, making them unlikely to cause serious harm.

  • Objects with greater weight and better aerodynamics can potentially be lethal when dropped from heights, such as baseballs or large hailstones.

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