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Re: [Fwd: Physics]

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Fellow engineers,

	The following item appeared in my e-mail recently and I thought
subscribers to the list might find it interesting.

	Happy Thanksgiving.


				Best regards,

				H. Daryl Richardson

> > > > A short story that appeals to engineering minds:
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > The following concerns a question in a physics
> > > > degree exam at the University
> > > > of Copenhagen: "Describe how to determine the height
> > > > of a skyscraper with a
> > > > barometer."
> > > >
> > > > One student replied:
> > > >
> > > > "You tie a long piece of string to the neck of the
> > > > barometer, then lower the
> > > > barometer from the roof of the skyscraper to the
> > > > ground.  The length of the
> > > > string plus the length of the barometer will equal
> > > > the height of the
> > > > building."
> > > >
> > > > This highly original answer so incensed the examiner
> > > > that the student was
> > > > failed immediately.
> > > >
> > > > The student appealed on the grounds that his answer
> > > > was indisputably
> > > > correct, and the university appointed an independent
> > > > arbiter to decide the
> > > > case.  The arbiter judged that the answer was indeed
> > > > correct, but did not
> > > > display any noticeable knowledge of physics.
> > > >
> > > > To resolve the problem it was decided to call the
> > > > student in and allow him
> > > > six minutes in which to provide a verbal answer that
> > > > showed at least a
> > > > minimal familiarity with the basic principles of
> > > > physics.  For five minutes
> > > > the student sat in silence, forehead creased in
> > > > thought.  The arbiter
> > > > reminded him that time was running out, to which the
> > > > student replied that he
> > > > had several extremely relevant answers, but couldn't
> > > > make up his mind which
> > > > to use.  On being advised to hurry up the student
> > > > replied as follows:
> > > >
> > > > "Firstly, you could take the barometer up to the
> > > > roof of the skyscraper,
> > > > drop it over the edge, and measure the time it takes
> > > > to reach the ground.
> > > > The height of the building can then be worked out
> > > > from the formula H = 0.5g
> > > > x t squared.  But bad luck on the barometer."
> > > >
> > > > "Or if the sun is shining you could measure the
> > > > height of the barometer,
> > > > then set it on end and measure the length of its
> > > > shadow.  Then you measure
> > > > the length of the skyscraper's shadow, and
> > > > thereafter it is a simple matter
> > > > of proportional arithmetic to work out the height of
> > > > the skyscraper."
> > > >
> > > > "But if you wanted to be highly scientific about it,
> > > > you could tie a short
> > > > piece of string to the barometer and swing it like a
> > > > pendulum, first at
> > > > ground level and then on the roof of the skyscraper.
> > > >  The height is worked
> > > > out by the difference in the gravitational restoring
> > > > force T =2 pi sqr root
> > > > (l / g)."
> > > >
> > > > "Or if the skyscraper has an outside emergency
> > > > staircase, it would be easier
> > > > to walk up it and mark off the height of the
> > > > skyscraper in barometer
> > > > lengths, then add them up."
> > > >
> > > > "If you merely wanted to be boring and orthodox
> > > > about it, of course, you
> > > > could use the barometer to measure the air pressure
> > > > on the roof of the
> > > > skyscraper and on the ground, and convert the
> > > > difference in millibars into
> > > > feet to give the height of the building."
> > > >
> > > > "But since we are constantly being exhorted to
> > > > exercise independence of mind
> > > > and apply scientific methods, undoubtedly the best
> > > > way would be to knock on
> > > > the janitor's door and say to him 'If you would like
> > > > a nice new barometer, I
> > > > will give you this one if you tell me the height of
> > > > this skyscraper'."
> > > >
> > > > The student was Niels Bohr, the only Dane to win the
> > > > Nobel Prize for
> > > > Physics.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > >
> > >
> > > __________________________________________________
> > > Do You Yahoo!?
> > > Yahoo! GeoCities - quick and easy web site hosting, just $8.95/month.
> > > http://geocities.yahoo.com/ps/info1
> > >
> >

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