Blogs May 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm

# The Best Question to Ever Be Asked on Questionland!

I love it! The physics calculations are stellar, and "assume a spherical villain" shall now enter into my lexicon.
Seriously... "Assume a spherical villain falling straight down" is maybe my favorite phrase ever.
psh...Hans Gruber. What a pussy. Falling to your death didn't stop Billy Score (Henry Silva) shooting at Burt Reynolds in Sharkey's Machine.
Move over dear science!
The last sentence alone is worthy of a free pizza. Have you guys considered giving out drink vouchers for local bars? Questionland would be on fire.
Jesus Megan, SPOILER much? I've got Die Hard in my que and now you've ruined it.
6500' is over four times the height of the Sears Tower, the tallest building in the world at the time the movie was made and more than twice the height of the world's tallest building ever, the Burj Al Whatever just completed in Dubai.
Dude, give this guy a spot on Mythbusters. It's sometimes crazy how much I learn on SLOG.
That's amazing. I love it.

As to the script, I am an expert at suspending disbelief but I find it very out of character that Hans didn't immediately begin pulling the trigger 'til it clicked. FWIW.
Plus, it would have made for a really comical scene at the climax of an action movie to show Bruce Willis and Bonnie Bedelia chicken-heading around flying bullets while looking over the edge of a sky scraper.
Interesting math, but incorrect.

(1) Humans are NOT spherical. They fall at different speeds, depending on their angle to the wind (we've all seen videos of skydivers all spread out like spiders to slow their fall). The terminal velocity of a falling human is around 65 miles per hour (ask any skydiver).

(2) So even if our buddy Hans reaches terminal velocity, there is enough extra muzzle velocity in a .45 to do damage.

(3) Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That means Hans only gets one shot while in free fall. The recoil of his first shot would set him spinning, making any subsequents shots completely randomly aimed.
If anyone wants to heard the debut single from our band, The Alan Rickman Project, hollar!!! It's actually pretty good.
@11

Interesting corrections, but incorrect.

1) "Assume spherical villain..." If you want to do the fluid dynamics calculations to calculate the drag coefficient that Hans possesses as he falls to his doom, be our guest. If not, let's just keep assuming he's spherical.
And I asked my skydiving friend "Wikipedia," about reaching terminal velocity and this is what he had to say, "...the terminal velocity of a skydiver in a free-fall position with a semi-closed parachute is about 195 km/h (120 mph or 55 m/s) -Huang, Jian (1999). "Speed of a Skydiver (Terminal Velocity)". The Physics Factbook. Glenn Elert, Midwood High School, Brooklyn College. http://hypertextbook.com/facts/JianHuang….

2) You're making the assumption that gravity doesn't exist to slow down the ascent of the fired bullet. You're also assuming that he fires the bullet right when he reaches terminal velocity, he's not. The bullet that Bruce Willis plucks from mid-flight has been fired after just over a minute from entering free-fall, not at the moment when Hans reaches terminal velocity.

3) This would be true if Hans' arm was a rigid structure attached to his center of gravity, but it's not. Unless he was firing from his shoulder (like with a rifle) this would likely not happen. His arm would absorb most of the recoil from the pistol.