How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works
 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
 
Question 13

If you drop a penny from the Empire state building - could it really puncture a hole in a car because of its constant acceleration?
Probably not. If the penny were to fall sideways, so that it had as little air resistance as possible, it would reach about 280 km/h (175 mph). That speed ought to be enough to drive the penny into the car if its top were thin enough. However, studies have shown (see http://www.urbanlegends.com/science/penny_falling_impact.html) that coins tumble as they fall and experience substantial air resistance. As a result, you could probably catch a falling penny in your hand, although it might sting a bit. A falling ballpoint pen, because of its aerodynamic shape, is another matter.
         

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