1. 2010
Jun
10

Firework Man

More Mythbusters! Yayyy!

Just kidding, I am not that incessantly perky. But I did have an interesting thought while watching last week’s episode of Mythbusters. Kari, Tory, and Grant were testing the myth that a man in Germany launched himself 150 feet high using 400 firecrackers and splashed down safely in a lake. First of all, how dumb is this guy? Darwin Award anyone? (I guess he’d technically be ineligible since in the myth, he survived unharmed, but it was certainly a noble effort)

Anyway, here’s my physics thought of the week for last week: $$v = \sqrt{2gh}$$. That’s the formula for the vertical velocity you need to reach a certain height as a ballistic projectile. To get 150 feet of altitude requires $$\unit{47}{\mileperhour}$$, and that’s if you launch straight up. Coming off an angled ramp, as they did in the show, you’d have to be going even faster. Of course, the guy in the myth isn’t quite a ballistic projectile; he gets an extended boost from the rockets. But still, $$\unit{150}{\foot}$$ of altitude is pushing it, so I would have been inclined (pun? intended? nah) to dismiss this …