As a man of science, I love doing experiments. So I was especially giddy to come across this experiment from Scientific American that was not only fun to do, but would also come in handy with my personal flying machine.
When you are building your own jet pack, it’s nice to have a working parachute on hand just in case something goes wrong. Not that I’ve ever botched an experiment, of course, but you can never really trust henchmen and lab interns.
Here’s the Scientific American experiment for those to lazy to click through:
• Heavy-weight garbage bag
• Four pennies
• A safe, high surface, about two meters from the ground. A good place may be a secure balcony, deck or playground platform.
• Stopwatch (accurate to at least 0.1 seconds)
• Cut open the garbage bag to make a flat sheet of plastic.
• Cut two squares out of the garbage bag. Make one be 20 centimeters by 20 cm (about eight inches by eight inches) and one be 50 cm by 50 cm (20 inches by 20 inches).
• Tie a knot in each of the four corners of each square.
• Cut the string into eight pieces that are 40 cm (about 16 inches) long each.
• Tie one end of each piece of string around each of the knots, positioning the string right above the knot.
• For each square, hold the center of the square in one hand and pull all of the strings with the other hand to collect them. Tie the free end of the strings together with an overhand knot.
• Securely tape two pennies to the end of the strings on each square. What do you think the purpose of the pennies is? Hint: you can try letting the squares float to the ground without the pennies first and see what happens.
• Your parachutes are now ready to test!
• Bring a stopwatch and the parachutes to the safe, high surface you found that is about two meters from the ground.
• Release the smaller parachute from high above the ground and time how long it takes for it to fall to the ground. Try this parachute two more times, releasing it from the same height each time. About how long did it take to fall on average?
• Release the larger parachute from the same height and time how long it takes for it to fall to the ground. Try this parachute two more times. About how long did it take the larger parachute to fall?
So of course it turns out that the larger the parachute, the slower the fall. Since most of my experiments are of questionable legality, I prefer a small parachute for better maneuverability.
That is all.