Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Leaping Tall Buildings in a Single Bound

“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…"
Wikipedia description of Superman

Geez, talk about all brawn and no brain.  What’s faster: leaping over the world’s tallest building in a single bound or just running around it?

The world’s tallest building is the 828 m (~2,717 ft) tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai.  Burj Khalifa appears to be less than 200 m wide.  A world-class sprinter can run 200 m in about 20 s, but Superman, moving like a speeding bullet, can travel this in less than 1.0 s.  If he were to leap over the building in a single bound, the minimum amount of time it would take is given by the equation,

t = 2 · [2 · (height) / (acceleration of gravity) ]1/2
= 2 · [2 · (828 m) / (9.8 m/s2) ]1/2
= 26 s.

Even with all that speed, Superman’s a little slow on the uptake.  He could run around the building in about one-tenth the time.

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