Friday, February 27, 2015

An ant-sized question

Sometimes I feel like this really IS the best time to be living. I mean, I just wondered if blowing off an ant off my teacup would save it or kill it and when I was young and voila! Beloved Google has brought it to my attention that my query is but a common one.
So incase you're wondering, would an ant survive being thrown off the Empire State building?
The answer is:
The force of gravity on an ant is really tiny. If there were no air, an ant (and everything else) would accelerate at 9.81 meters per second per second. The resistive force due to air drag increases with the speed and opposes the motion. Eventually, an object goes fast enough so the drag force is equal and opposite to the gravitational force, and the object no longer accelerates. We say it has reached "terminal velocity".

The terminal velocity for an ant in air is quite small -- no more than two meters per second, I guess (having dropped a number of ants from about a meter myself). Ants are also amazingly durable -- they have very hard exoskeletons. I think the ant will have no trouble surviving that fall!

Some ants even have wings and can fly!


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