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Q & A: Baumgartner's terminal velocity

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Most recent answer: 10/15/2012
Q:
How is it possible for Felix Baumgartner to claim that he reached more than the speed of sound in a freefall dive on October 12, 2012. Was I asleep in Physics classes and only dreamed that terminal velocity of a falling body was at best around 135 MPH.
- Mike Hopper (age 67)
Greenfield, Indiana USA
A:
That's a reasonable value for a person's terminal velocity in air at sea-level. The density of the air, however, falls off exponentially with height. Thus the terminal velocity was much higher in the higher part of his fall.

Mike W.

(published on 10/15/2012)

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