MadSci Network: Biophysics

Re: how does F= m*a apply to two skydivers colliding?

Date: Sun Oct 26 21:09:39 2003
Posted By: Dr. Nagesh N Bhat, Post-doc/Fellow, Biophysics,
Area of science: Biophysics
ID: 1043966076.Bp

Newton's laws cannot directly describe the kinetics of a parachutist. The 
system i.e., parachutist + parachute, attains terminal velocity within no 
time after the parachute is thrown open. Although the initial velocity of 
two parachutists are same, their terminal velocity can be different 
depending on their weight, the way they sail by controlling the directions 
and many other random factors such as wind direction, controls of 
parachute, etc. 

With the influence of wind, they can also attain velocity in lateral 
directions, which is a commonly observed thing. All these random factors 
can lead to a large difference in velocity between two parachutists, which 
is sufficient to receive the injury when collided. The collision can be 
either lateral or more likely, in an angle. However, the relation P=m*v is 
still applicable at the time of collision if the direction and velocity is 
known at the time of collision. In the case of Dana Bowman also, the 
collision was lateral while performing crisscross drive in mid air.

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