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Scorpion Season 1 Episode 19: "Young Hearts Spark Fire" (Part II)


Rshadler

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As I mentioned in the previous post, here is part II: the wildfire. Honestly, I just wanted to know if it is even physically possible for that many slow-moving people to out run a spreading wildfire, especially in high winds. Here's a short clip from the episode showing the spreading fire:

http://www.cbs.com/shows/scorpion/video/45699904-3F02-8272-59C1-482673FE0BEF/scorpion-fire-is-getting-close/

So the first thing I noticed was that Sylvester (the man who was on his own dragging that other guy) was walking pretty much the entire time and he started at the epicenter of the fire. The other group stood still for probably 10-15 minutes deciding how to get across the ravine. However, the group started on the outskirts of the fire in the first place so they had more time escape. So really, the question I'm trying to answer is could Sylvester (and the injured man he had to drag) possibly out run the fire?

The average maximum speed of a wildfire varies from 9 mph to 12.5 mph (16 km/h to 20 km/h). The average human can run at speeds of up 15 mph for short periods of time, which would mean that Sylvester could have outrun the fire that way, if it was a normal wildfire. However, there are multiple reasons why this becomes impossible. For one the added weight of the man Sylvester has to pull creates a force in the opposite direction of his movement, slowing him down. Also, the heavy wind- at least 50 knots (~57.5 mph)- accelerates the wildfire's spreading speed meaning this wildfire could be moving significantly faster than most humans could run period. So then how did Sylvester and his friend survive?

He takes advantage the titanium door that they been using as sled for the man he was pulling. Titanium is- as Sylvester points out- a low conductor of heat. This mean that when the fire rolls over them the heat is not absorb well and thus does not hurt them. As for the metal of the pipe they are in, I'm not sure what it is but one can imagine we are to assume that it too is a low conductor of heat.

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Anyways, that concludes my exploration of this episode. Thanks for reading!

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