Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Righting wrongs

False: A penny dropped from the Empire State Building would kill someone below.

A few calculations tell us that a penny falling edge-on from the 1,050-foot-high observation deck on Floor 86 of the 102-story skyscraper would fall 500 feet before reaching maximum velocity: 57 miles an hour.

This is about 1/10 the speed of a low-caliber handgun bullet -- fast enough to hurt but, except in freak circumstances, not to kill.

It's a moot point anyway: Thanks to updrafts, coins tossed from the observation deck generally land on the setback roof of Floor 80.

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