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Falling Penny vs. Falling Pen

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jrv12

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I'm sure everyone has heard the myth that if a penny is dropped off the Empire State Building it could kill someone. Well, fortunately you can still walk in NYC without shielding your head from falling pennies because this is not true. The penny will tumble as it falls which will slow it down, and because pennies are flat and thin, they experience a lot of air resistance opposing the force of gravity. A penny would reach a  terminal velocity of a meager 25 mph at 50 feet. Instead of going straight into your head like most people believe, the penny would bounce right off and you would most likely only feel a small sting. If air resistance didn't exist, the penny would reach 208 mph by the time it reaches the ground, which could definitely do some damage.

However, don't go walking around without your head covered just yet. A pen that is dropped perfectly vertical from the skyscraper would reach a terminal velocity of 200 mph, and would most likely kill you. Because of the narrow, cylindrical shape of the pen, it would fall like an arrow and pierce your skull, killing you. Now, if you're like me, you will want to walk around with a helmet on for the rest of your life in order to avoid a hole in your skull from a stray pen!

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