Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The fall of of Nigel Pargetter

There was a nice application of mathematics to The Archers in last week's More or Less on BBC Radio 4.

For the uninitiated, apparently a character called Nigel Pargetter in the popular radio soap, The Archers, fell to his death from the roof of his home, Lower Loxley, in the episode broadcast on 2 January 2011.

As he fell he screamed for about 3.5 seconds before crashing into the ground. Very dramatic, but mathematically incredible!

Ignoring air resistance – which would be not very significant at these speeds – we can use the formula s = ½gt² to calculate the distance travelled (s) in these 3.5 seconds. The constant g is the acceleration due to gravity, which is about 9.8 metres per second per second. This gives us s = ½ × 9.8 × 3.5², which is just over 60 metres.

So, the roof of Lower Loxley must be 60 metres from the ground. Wow, that's some house that the Pargetters lived in! That's as high as York Minster!

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