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April 19, 2004
April 19, 2004
For Immediate Release  
Data Recorder
Smashes the Myth
of Falling Bodies
In the “Mythbusters” television show, a scientific investigation team that researches commonly believed myths was looking for a way to prove or disprove the myth that a body falling from a high point into water may be saved if a heavy object hits the water just before the impact of the body. The myth began during the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in 1937. During this period, 12 men fell off a scaffold, and only one man survived. The myth developed that the one man’s heavy tool belt hit the water just before he did and it helped save his life.
Because of this incident, it became a common myth that if you were falling from a high point over water, you may save your life by striking the water with a hammer or by having a heavy object hit the water just before your impact. This would break the surface tension of the water or aerate the water in such a way that it would reduce impact damage and possibly save your life (the surface tension of the water is the real killer).
Mythbusters staff contacted Instrumented Sensor Technology (IST) of Okemos, Mich., the world’s leader in shock and vibration G-force data recorders. An IST data recorder was placed inside a dummy normally used for recording crash data in automobiles. A shipping crane near San Francisco was used to lift the dummy to a height of 180 ft. above the bay. An IST data recorder and high speed cameras were used to record the results.
After a series of catastrophic crash dives, it became painfully clear that a hammer striking the water in front of the body would not make much difference on the body’s impact. The dummy fell at a rate of 60 miles per hour, and registered a G-force of 287 to 296 Gs without the hammer and 239 to 269 Gs with the hammer. There was a measurable difference, but not enough to save a person’s life (an average car crash rates around 70 Gs).
Mythbusters felt this demonstration proved that this myth has now been “busted.” Besides helping to bust myths, IST data recorders are used on high speed racing cars, U.S. space shuttles and missiles, and a wide range of down to earth applications. IST is the leading worldwide designer and manufacturer of data recorders for dynamic environments.
For more information contact:
Instrumented Sensor Technology
4704 Moore, St. Okemos, MI 48864
Ph: 517-349-8487
Fax: 517-349-8469

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