Myth or Fact? #20 – A Penny dropped off the Empire State Building kills you + Steem BTCC Voting reminder

in science •  3 years ago  (edited)

Welcome my dear Steemian friends to a new episode of Myth or Fact!

One of my biggest dreams was to visit NYC. I was excited when I finally had the opportunity to explore the city on my own. A friend of mine recommended me to see the Empire State Building. The skyscraper is one of the landmarks of the city. There are many rumors and stories that people tell, but one of them was quite remarkable.

“When someone drops a penny off the Empire State Building and it hits you, you will die from the impact!”

After hearing this I was afraid and stayed well clear off the pavements around the famous building. I didn’t want to die because of a penny!

What do you think? Fact or fiction? Let’s find out!

Long live science!

We need to understand what happens with a penny when it’s dropped off the building. The roof of the Empire State Building has a height of 381 meters. A common penny has a weight of 1-2 gram. First of all we want to calculate the time it takes until the penny hits the sidewalk and in addition to that we want to know the velocity and force that acts upon the object the penny hits.


Since we know the building is 381 m high and the acceleration of gravity is 9.8 m/s/s we can calculate the time of free fall (note that we ignore the air resistance).

We use this simple formula to calculate the time the penny travels. All variables are known except the time, t. After transforming the equation we know the exact time.

So it takes around 8.81 seconds from the top of the building to the ground. We use another formula to calculate the terminal velocity.

Inserting the known values and transforming we know that the penny will hit with sidewalk with a velocity of 80 meters per second. The impulse that acts on the body that is hit is: p = m*v. Since we know the mass m and velocity v we can calculate the impulse p (0.08 Newton per seconds)

Is it fatal?

No, simply no. It would hurt for a few seconds but nothing serious will happen to you at all. There are many facts we need to consider. First of all our calculations ignore the air resistance. Because our penny is small and has a low weight the air resistance plays a huge role. It slows the coins terminal velocity (maximum speed). Furthermore, the force upon impact is tiny due to the weight. A bullet from a gun (9 mm, Glock) reaches a terminal velocity of 350-450 m/s and has a weight of 7.5 g, nothing a penny can reach even closely. Because of the flat shape of the coin the air resistance is very high and reduces its speed to approximately 11 m/s. However, take care. If someone throws a pen it can shoot down like an arrow and become a deadly projectile - it might pierce you

To summarize: A coin is too small, flat, has a low velocity and is cushioned by the air. It wouldn’t even reach the ground since there is a mesh that catches the coin.

Thanks for reading this episode of Myth or Fact! Hope you aren't afraid of passing skyscrapers now!

Myth or Fact? #19 – Cold weather makes you catch a cold
Myth or Fact? #18 – Hair and nails keep growing after death
Myth or Fact? #17 – Cockroaches can survive a nuclear catastrophe
Myth or Fact? #16 – Skin on heated milk is dangerous
Myth or Fact? #15 - Survive a falling elevator by jumping up as it hits the floor
Myth or Fact? #14 - Mosquitoes prefer people with sweet blood
Myth or Fact? #13 - Does Santa Claus exist? 🎅
Myth or Fact? #12 - Acid and Base saves Life
Myth or Fact? #11 – Glass is a liquid
Myth or Fact? #10 – During summer the Eiffel Tower is taller
Myth or Fact? #9 - Hot water freezes faster than cold water
Myth or Fact? #8 - Oxygen runs out in overfilled rooms
Myth or Fact? #7 – Does a mirror swap left and right?
Myth or Fact? #6 – Radioactive contaminated waste glows green
Myth or Fact? #5 – Does drinking distilled water kill you?
Myth or Fact? #4 - We only use 10% of our Brain
Myth or Fact? #3 - Is it colder during Winter because the Sun is further?
Myth or Fact? #2- The world's most famous equation: E=mc²
Myth or Fact? #1 - The Five Second Rule

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  ·  3 years ago (edited)

But, having lived in NYC, there is always that one story about the icicle that fell off a building and killed someone. Always makes me wary.

This one is deadly for sure

Maybe the penny thing is more a Fable to make people aware to look up xP

Lot of people throw a penny to make a wish

New way to recognize Steemian on da streets


how bout the time the high winds hit chicago?..and blew out all that really SHARP glass..that fell to the ground far below....slicing and dicing...?

Icicles can grow to a very significant mass under favorable conditions; a pound or more. Obviously they have fairly little drag, so factor in any serious height and they can definitely injure or possibly kill someone.

It is great to know the top speed it could actually reach with the friction factor calculated in! Thanks for sharing with such clarity. Namaste :)

Just take care of the pens! :) Namaste my friend

Way to destroy a childhood myth, next you will be telling me the toothfairy isnt real to ? =,(

well fang you very much!

This will be my next Myth or Fact!

I swear one day i will find a blog post stating i do not exist also ... and neither does the blog i have just read =P

Hahahahaha! Great post!

I used to live on Long Island, and have been near (but never up) the Empire State Building...

Thank you for an entertaining post. Science rules, (sometimes)... This is one of those cases. :D



Never up? Too busy drinking all these Long Island Ice Tea's :P
Thank you creatr!

Yes, you are right about the penny especially if it flutters or rotates and the air resistance. It was interesting to note that you used grams instead of the penny a 1/20th unit of weight for the troy ounce. Even though you gave the example of the pen and it is likely it would adopt a linear trajectory just like an arrow by the time it reached ground level and puncture.

The skull can accept 8 p.s.i. before damage. Try calculating what would happen if the penny hit on edge and the surface area at the point of contact with a skull. Like a record needle on an old phonograph record the needle is 20,000 psi. When one takes this amount of force into account it just might crack a skull or cause a real nasty bruise

What about if you dropped a car from there? Would it hurt?

Might tickle a bit

only if it hit you :)

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

New way to recognize Steemian on da streets

These titles of yours really make me think it could be true :) Well done!

Trick or treat :D

Congratulations @timsaid!
Your post was mentioned in my hit parade in the following categories:

  • Upvotes - Ranked 3 with 632 upvotes
  • Pending payout - Ranked 4 with $ 885,75

How about carrying and using an umbrella, and a big cup.

nice one...and yes one last leap of voting!!! I did my bit.

YAY actual science!!!!

Voted for steem... ;)

It would be interesting to know how many people drop pennies off of the empire state building each day testing this theory. It would be funny if enough pennies were dropped that it attracted panhandlers to hang out underneath the Empire State Building just to collect them and they made a good living off of it.

In college we actually threw all our empties out the window, because overnight a homeless person would come by and collect all of them. It was a rare win-win-win: we didn't have to worry about it, homeless person got some $$, and the aluminum got recycled.

At least it worked for both sides. When I was in college our town had a can man who was smart. He set up a facebook page advertising his need for cans. College students would message him where he could pick up beer and soda cans. You'd see him around town with shopping carts full all the time. He did really well.

Then I will take my wife there !! with some coins just joking

You are like mythbusters of steemit! haha great post @timsaid


When will you be doing airplane on a treadmill? ;P

awesome possum...what about fishing weights?

I liked the fact that you did simple calculations to reach the result. This is what I like about your posts. Simple, yet clear and informative. By the way that Newton gif was just amazing!!!!

I would say yeah cause from that distance it might turn it a bullet 😂

I'm glad it's not fatal. Otherwise, a handful of coins thrown from the roof could be called a weapon of mass destruction :-)

If your throw a SUV from the ESB it's deadly, you agree?

Not long until voting ends we're making a real Steem surge at the moment so keep voting, promoting and Resteeming!!

I just always assumed that because a penny is so lightweight, it wouldn't do anything. Thanks for confirming my suspicions!

LOL I learned something new!

@timsaid ... Its Great that your penny earned you $966+
Worth it!
Please pour in your comments and upvote me @digitaldollar

I remember doing an experiment to test this myth. Unfortunately, it is impossible unless propelled...

Only with science can ridiculous myths be put to bed!

Great entertaining post! Whew, I'm so glad that isn't true. At 80 yrs. old I make that jaunt often. Haha

Me too! I wouldn't want to live in a world where pennies can kill

hahahah good stuff! i was wondering I'm pretty sure i dropped a drink when i was there, and what would happen then . It was a plastic juice bottle!! lol

Most likely caught by the mesh :)

thanks for putting this to rest @timsaid, after living in NYC and having a few of the ESB from our apartment we talked about this possibility many times!

Great to see it's a known Myth!

But a Bitcoin dropped from a 2700$ could make you panic sell and bankrupt for sure!


TLDR; no, because mostly of air resistance

Glad i live in the country

Many people are fooled by myths!!!

That's what we need to change!

It would hurt like a mother fucker though for sure.

I don't want to try it lol

Great post. proper good read. Safe to say i have learnt something this evening....

Thanks for the kind words @rickskimartin!

Love your Myth or Fact posts.. I have a real know-it-all brother in law and I am going to slaughter him with some of these lol!
Upvoted and followed

Haha, that's a great idea! Invite him to Steemit!

Great calculation and explanatio @timsaid

“When someone drops a penny off the Empire State Building and it hits you, you will die from the impact!”

never heard of it before but very nice post @timsaid

Beware the guy who drops a pen

Or soap in the shower?


resteem and upvote for your post....

Great post! Clicking on it, I would have thought fact - cool to read the science behind it - and finding out that at least pennies won't be the thing that ends me when walking below a skyscraper :)

The answer is KE

Why Not Both 26052017064038.jpg

I would say a fact, that's my guess


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