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"Falling" (1967) by James Dickey (1923-1997, author of "Deliverance") At the end of this post, you'll be able to answer these questions nearly instantly, and you'll remember how to do it for the rest of your life. What I'm about to tell you is no more advanced than what a middle-school child learns in science class (and forgets the moment the test is over). We all know the names Pythagoras and Galileo. Pythagoras (c570BC - c495BC) is most famous for the Pythagorean Theorem (which has nothing to do with this). He was a Greek scholar, philosopher, and mathematician, and was clever enough to devise the following mathematical formula. Don't stop here - this is *easy*! Note that the drawing is a "square." The numbers on top are just 1, 2, 3 .... The numbers on the left are the number of dots in that section (count them and see). You should be able to clearly see that this drawing can be extended to infinity. But what does it represent? Let's take the number 3. Count up all the dots in sections 1-3, and you'll get 9 dots, or, 3-squared. With the number 4, count up all the dots in sections 1-4, and you'll get 16 dots, or 4-squared. This is all very easy to see, and intuitive as a graph; unfortunately, it needs to be represented as a formula. Don't leave! Skip the following line if you need to because it's not that important: For any number (call it "X"), it's square is equal to the first "X" odd numbers, added up. Don't leave! With the number 4, it's square is equal to the sum of the first 4 odd numbers: 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 = 16. Hi-Fi was rumored to be a square as well: [Exit Pythagoras] [Enter Galileo] Galileo (1564-1642) is one of absolute most famous scientists in history, and his accomplishments are so vast that listing them here would be pointless. There really isn't any "one thing" he's most famous for; he's a lot like Leonardo da Vinci - just a total Renaissance man, and you'd have to put him on any Top 10 list of "Scientific Contributions To Mankind" for his lifetime achievements. Galileo was fascinated by Pythagoras, and one of the things he did was take this formula by Pythagoras - purely mathematical - and apply it to the real world. In other words, he took pure Math, and applied it to Physics. Galileo figured out that the above figure corresponded almost exactly to how fast objects fell. This is what he figured out. Don't leave! This is just as easy. Here are a few details that you can skip because for the purposes of understanding this, you don't need to know them; just be aware that they exist: SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME 1. In reality, this applies only to objects falling in a vacuum. Things like drag (stick your arm out the window of a moving car) and buoyancy (a cork floating on water) are important to scientists, but not for us. 2. All things - no matter what their weight, mass, or density - fall with the same acceleration and speeds. This has been proven, and you can count on it being true: in a vacuum, a feather will fall exactly as fast as a brick, and they'll hit bottom at the exact same time. 3. There is an upper-bound called terminal velocity which happens when the forces of drag + buoyancy cancel out the force of gravity. Since you've made it this far, you are hereby rewarded by the trailer of the 1994 film with the same name: SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME - SKIP ME Are you still here? Okay, we're almost done. Don't leave! Here is what Galileo figured out, using what Pythagoras did as a basis (note that the metric system was not introduced until 1668, after Galileo's death): For every 1/4-second increment spent falling, you cover the distance shown by adding up the numbers on the left side of the above figure. Examples: 1/4-second: You fall 1 foot. 1/2 second: You fall 1 + 3 feet. 3/4 second: You fall 1 + 3 + 5 feet. So for every 1/4-second interval that something falls, just add up the odd numbers. That's it! Now, ask yourselves: how far do you fall in one second? Two seconds? Hint: one second is four 1/4-second intervals; two seconds is eight 1/4-second intervals. (The answers are 16 feet (1+3+5+7) and 64 feet (1+3+5+7+9+11+13+15), respectively.) As a shortcut which makes it even easier, you can just take the square of the number of 1/4-second intervals (for one second, it's 4-squared; for two seconds, it's 8-squared; for 5 seconds, it's 20-squared which is greater than the length of a football field). You are now free to live the rest of your life knowing that if you fall for much longer than one second, you're pretty much fucked. PS - the sheriff at the end of Deliverance was James Dickey himself: Does anyone know why Dickey gets in and drives off in the passenger's side of the car? Is this some weird mirror-image thing? Or was this filmed in England?
For some reason (probably because the Angels are a west-coast, American League team), I had heard about the wonder-boy Mike Trout for a long time before actually getting to see him, but now that I've been seeing him play more, I'm wondering if there's anything this near-superhuman specimen can't do. Trout is a true five-skill player: 1) hits for average 2) hits for power 3) baserunning skills and speed 4) fielding abilities and 5) throwing abilities. He really can do it all, but I didn't realize he was as fast as he is until he scored from second base on Prince Fielder's single to left field during this year's All-Star Game, shown in a video here: Bryce Harper on Mike Trout I also ran across this article: "Mike Trout Thinks He Can Beat Mike Vick in a 50-Yard Sprint" on csnphilly.com Trout has explosive quickness - the same type that Mickey Mantle and Jack Ham had (Ham was said to be able to run from 0 to 10 yards faster than any other Steeler). There's a *huge* difference between someone who can hit their top speed on their fifth stride, and someone who can run a fast 100-meters: Invariably, the explosive runner bursts out ahead, and then the 100-meter sprinter will pass them. For example, take the suicide race in basketball where you begin at the baseline and run four intervals as fast as you can: 1. Run to the foul line, and back to the baseline (15 feet each way) 2. Run to mid-court, and back to the baseline (47 feet each way) 3. Run to the other foul line, and back to the baseline (79 feet each way) 4. Run to the other baseline, and back to the original starting point (94 feet each way) Total: 8 accelerations, 7 turns, 470 feet of running. Note that 3 of the 8 accelerations, and 2 of the 7 turns, come in the first 30 feet. If Mike Trout ran a suicide against Usain Bolt (*), what would happen is that Trout would burst ahead, and would go baseline-foul line-baseline and then head towards mid-court, accelerating three times in a matter of just a couple seconds and changing directions twice in that short duration. By the time Trout passed the foul line the second time (on his way to mid-court), Bolt would probably still be back at the baseline, just getting ready to make his turn. And as the intervals get longer-and-longer, at some point, Bolt would blow by Trout like he was driving a motorcycle and win easily. But for those first few turns, and first few seconds, Trout would be way ahead of Bolt, and that's because he's so explosive that he hits his top speed very, very quickly, and I'm certain that he also has the ability to stop and turn around on a dime as well; it's just that his top speed isn't nearly as fast as Bolt's. I'm very familiar with this type of explosive quickness, and I'd bet money the paragraph I just typed above would be true. Trout's body type (invariably huge thighs and incredibly strong adductors) is conducive to stopping and starting and turning around, running 10-yard intervals like a cat, and being able to do this type of thing as well as anyone in the world. Trout has the ability to reach his top speed very, very quickly, but his top speed isn't as fast as a sprinter's - it's the difference between torque and horsepower, between acceleration and velocity. Trout accelerates incredibly; he just isn't able to *keep* accelerating like Bolt is, and so Bolt has a much greater velocity. (*) I purposely picked Usain Bolt because he's the *fastest* person to ever live; but he's not the *quickest* person to ever live. If Trout ran the 100 meter sprint against Bolt, it would be like a housecat running it against a cheetah: The housecat would burst out in front for the first "x" yards, and then at some point early on in the race, the cheetah would look like a blur passing the housecat.