<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Terminal velocity of a skydiver

Find the terminal velocity of an 85-kg skydiver falling in a spread-eagle position.

Strategy

At terminal velocity, F net = 0 . Thus, the drag force on the skydiver must equal the force of gravity (the person’s weight). Using the equation of drag force, we find m g = 1 2 ρ C A v 2 .

Solution

The terminal velocity v T can be written as

v T = 2 m g ρ C A = 2 ( 85 kg ) ( 9.80 m/s 2 ) ( 1.21 kg/m 3 ) ( 1.0 ) ( 0.70 m 2 ) = 44 m/s .

Significance

This result is consistent with the value for v T mentioned earlier. The 75-kg skydiver going feet first had a terminal velocity of v T = 98 m/s . He weighed less but had a smaller frontal area and so a smaller drag due to the air.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Check Your Understanding Find the terminal velocity of a 50-kg skydiver falling in spread-eagle fashion.

34 m/s

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

The size of the object that is falling through air presents another interesting application of air drag. If you fall from a 5-m-high branch of a tree, you will likely get hurt—possibly fracturing a bone. However, a small squirrel does this all the time, without getting hurt. You do not reach a terminal velocity in such a short distance, but the squirrel does.

The following interesting quote on animal size and terminal velocity is from a 1928 essay by a British biologist, J. B. S. Haldane, titled “On Being the Right Size.”

“To the mouse and any smaller animal, [gravity] presents practically no dangers. You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, and a horse splashes. For the resistance presented to movement by the air is proportional to the surface of the moving object. Divide an animal’s length, breadth, and height each by ten; its weight is reduced to a thousandth, but its surface only to a hundredth. So the resistance to falling in the case of the small animal is relatively ten times greater than the driving force.”

The above quadratic dependence of air drag upon velocity does not hold if the object is very small, is going very slow, or is in a denser medium than air. Then we find that the drag force is proportional just to the velocity. This relationship is given by Stokes’ law.

Stokes’ law

For a spherical object falling in a medium, the drag force is

F s = 6 π r η v ,

where r is the radius of the object, η is the viscosity of the fluid, and v is the object’s velocity.

Good examples of Stokes’ law are provided by microorganisms, pollen, and dust particles. Because each of these objects is so small, we find that many of these objects travel unaided only at a constant (terminal) velocity. Terminal velocities for bacteria (size about 1 μm ) can be about 2 μm/s . To move at a greater speed, many bacteria swim using flagella (organelles shaped like little tails) that are powered by little motors embedded in the cell.

Sediment in a lake can move at a greater terminal velocity (about 5 μm/s ) , so it can take days for it to reach the bottom of the lake after being deposited on the surface.

If we compare animals living on land with those in water, you can see how drag has influenced evolution. Fish, dolphins, and even massive whales are streamlined in shape to reduce drag forces. Birds are streamlined and migratory species that fly large distances often have particular features such as long necks. Flocks of birds fly in the shape of a spearhead as the flock forms a streamlined pattern ( [link] ). In humans, one important example of streamlining is the shape of sperm, which need to be efficient in their use of energy.

Questions & Answers

what is physics
Satyabrata Reply
Physics is the tool humans use to understand the properties characteristics and interactions of where they live - the universe. Thus making laws and theories about the universe in a mathematical way derived from empirical results yielded in tons of experiments.
Jomari
This tool, the physics, also enhances their way of thinking. Evolving integrating and enhancing their critical logical rational and philosophical thinking since the greeks fired the first neurons of physics.
Jomari
nice
Satyabrata
Physics is also under the category of Physical Science which deals with the behavior and properties of physical quantities around us.
Angelo
Physical Science is under the category of Physics*... I prefer the most is Theoretical Physics where it deals with the philosophical view of our world.
Jomari
what is unit
Satyabrata Reply
Metric unit
Arzoodan
A unit is what comes after a number that gives a precise detail on what the number means. For example, 10 kilograms, 10 is the number while "kilogram" is the unit.
Angelo
there are also different types of units, but metric is the most widely used. It is called the SI system. Please research this on google.
Angelo
Unit? Bahay yon
Jomari
How did you get the value as Dcd=0.2Dab
ebewele Reply
Why as Dcd=0.2Dab? where are you got this formula?...
Arzoodan
since the distance Dcd=1.2 and the distance Dab=6.0 the ratio 1.2/6.0 gives the equation Dcd=0.2Dab
sunday
Well done.
Arzoodan
how do we add or deduct zero errors from result gotten using vernier calliper?
Aina Reply
how can i understand if the function are odd or even or neither odd or even
hamzaani
I don't get... do you mean positive or negative@hamzaani
Aina
Verner calliper is an old calculator
Antonio
Function is even if f(-x) =f(x)
Antonio
Function is odd if f(-x) = - f(x)
Antonio
what physical phenomena is resonance?
amrit Reply
is there any resonance in weight?
amrit
Resonance is due to vibrations and waves
Antonio
wait there is a chat here
dare
what is the difference between average velocity and magnitude of displacement
ibrahim
how velocity change with time
ibrahim
average velocity can be zero positive negative but magnitude of displacement is positive
amrit
if there is different displacement in same interval of time
amrit
Displacement can be zero, if you came back
Antonio
Displacement its a [L]
Antonio
Velocity its a vector
Antonio
Speed its the magnitude of velocity
Antonio
[Vt2-Vt1]/[t2-t1] = average velocity,another vector
Antonio
Distance, that and only that can't be negative, and is not a vector
Antonio
Distance its a metrical characteristic of the euclidean space
Antonio
Velocity change in time due a force acting (an acceleration)
Antonio
the change in velocity can be found using conservation of energy if the displacement is known
Jose
BEFORE = AFTER
Jose
kinetic energy + potential energy is equal to the kinetic energy after
Jose
the potential energy can be described as made times displacement times acceleration. I.e the work done on the object
Jose
mass*
Jose
from there make the final velocity the subject and solve
Jose
If its a conservative field
Antonio
So, no frictions in this case
Antonio
right
Jose
and if still conservative but force is in play then simply include work done by friction
Jose
Is not simple, is a very unknown force
Antonio
the vibration of a particle due to vibration of a similar particle close to it.
Aina
No, not so simple
Antonio
Frequency is involved
Antonio
mechanical wave?
Aina
All kind of waves, even in the sea
Antonio
will the LCR circut pure inductive if applied frequency becomes more than the natural frequency of AC circut? if yes , why?
Muskan Reply
LCR pure inductive? Is an nonsense
Antonio
what is photon
Elijah Reply
Photon is the effect of the Maxwell equations, it's the graviton of the electromagnetic field
Antonio
a particle representing a quantum of light or other electromagnetic radiation. A photon carries energy proportional to the radiation frequency but has zero rest mass.
Areej
Quantum it's not exact, its the elementary particle of electromagnetic field. Its not well clear if quantum theory its so, or if it's classical mechanics improved
Antonio
A photon is first and foremost a particle. And hence obeys Newtonian Mechanics. It is what visible light and other electromagnetic waves is made up of.
eli
No a photon has speed of light, and no mass, so is not Newtonian Mechanics
Antonio
photon is both a particle and a wave (It is the property called particle-wave duality). It is nearly massless, and travels at speed c. It interacts with and carries electromagnetic force.
Angelo
what are free vectors
sunday Reply
a vector hows point of action doesn't static . then vector can move bodily from one point to another point located on its original tragectory.
Anuj
A free vector its an element of an Affine Space
Antonio
Clay Matthews, a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers, can reach a speed of 10.0 m/s. At the start of a play, Matthews runs downfield at 45° with respect to the 50-yard line and covers 8.0 m in 1 s. He then runs straight down the field at 90° with respect to the 50-yard line for 12 m, with an elapsed time of 1.2 s. (a) What is Matthews’ final displacement from the start of the play? (b) What is his average velocity?
Macy Reply
Clay Matthews, a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers, can reach a speed of 10.0 m/s. At the start of a play, Matthews runs downfield at 45° with respect to the 50-yard line and covers 8.0 m in 1 s. He then runs straight down the field at 90° with respect to the 50-yard line for 12 m, with an elap
ibrahim
Very easy man
Antonio
how to find time moved by a mass on a spring
CHIDERA Reply
Maybe you mean frequency
Antonio
why hot soup is more tastier than cold soup?
Hamisi Reply
energy is involved
michael
hot soup is more energetic and thus enhances the flavor than a cold one.
Angelo
Its not Physics... Firstly, It falls under Anatomy. Your taste buds are the one to be blame not its coldness or hotness. Secondly, it depends on how the soup is done. Different soups possess different flavors and savors. If its on Physics, coldness of the soup will just bore you and if its hot...
Jomari
what is the importance of banking road in the circular path
Hamisi Reply
the coefficient of static friction of the tires and the pavement becomes less important because the angle of the banked curve helps friction to prevent slipping
Jose
an insect is at the end of the ring and the ring is rotating at an angular speed 'w' and it reaches to centre find its angular speed.
Bharani Reply
Angular speed is the rate at which an object changes its angle (measured) in radians, in a given time period. Angular speed has a magnitude (a value) only.  v represents the linear speed of a rotating object, r its radius, and ω its angular velocity in units of radians per unit of time, then v = rω
Lady
Angular speed = (final angle) - (initial angle) / time = change in position/time. ω = θ /t. ω = angular speed in radians/sec.
Lady
a boy through a ball with minimum velocity of 60 m/s and the ball reach ground 300 metre from him calculate angle of inclination
Emmanuel Reply
what is the fomula for work done
Martha Reply
work= force x distance
Guest
force × distance
Akash
Foece and displacement along the same direction as that of the force
nalin
force×displacement×cos∆ where ∆ is the angle between displacement and force.....i.e dot product of force and displacement
Mohammad
Is the angle between direcrion and force...
Arzoodan
Work is F x d = [F] •[d] • cos(a°)
Antonio
Force × distance along the same plane....
Aina
Practice Key Terms 2

Get the best University physics vol... course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 1. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12031/1.5
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'University physics volume 1' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask