It’s a theory that’s been passed through
generations since the Empire State first became
the world’s tallest building back on March
31st, 1931.
It’s said that if you make it all the way
up the building’s 1,860 steps, and stand
a whopping 102 stories above the New York
sidewalk, all you’d have to do to kill the
pedestrians on the street below is drop a
penny.. The idea is that even a tiny object,
like a coin, can gather enough speed when
dropped from a sufficiently great height that
it effectively turns into a bullet, splitting
open the head of anyone unfortunate enough
to be standing underneath.
But exactly how true is this? Could the insignificant
act of letting a single coin fall from a great
height carry a murder charge?
I’m Stu, this is Debunked, and we’re here
to sort the truths from the myths and the
facts from the misconceptions.
So how fast would this hypothetical penny
be falling when it hit some unsuspecting hypothetical
tourist on their hypothetical noggin? Well,
since we’re atop the Empire State Building
in this curious caper, let’s assume that
the penny we’re dropping is a standard American
one-cent coin.
Now around here…
…is where the theory starts to fall apart.
The fundamental problem with this concept
is that it assumes the penny will continue
to gather speed for much longer than it actually
would. In reality, falling objects can only
move so fast.
This is because the Earth is encased in a
cosy layer of gases known as the atmosphere,
the portion we’re concerned with is actually
called the troposphere – the lowest region
that’s closest to the ground. Everything
moving around on the Earth’s surface has
to move through it, and as a result, will
encounter air resistance.
As the force of gravity pulls the penny faster
and faster towards the ground, the amount
of air resistance increases. Eventually, the
accelerating forces will be balanced out by
the air resistance, meaning the penny won’t
be able to go any faster. It will have reached
its maximum speed, also known as its terminal
velocity.
A penny reaches its terminal velocity after
falling a mere 15m, which is slightly taller
than the letters in the Hollywood sign.
This means that a penny falling from any height
exceeding 15 metres will hit the ground at
the same speed. The more astute among you
will have realised that the Empire State Building
is, in fact, taller than 15m, standing proudly
at an impressive 443m or 1,454 feet.
Considering the fact that the fifth floor
of the Empire State Building stands at around
22m,
dropping the penny from the Observation Deck
on the 86th floor is simply a waste of time
(and money, since a ticket to the Observation
Deck will set you back $34).
A standard American one-cent coin weighs in
at 2.5g. A penny of this weight, when dropped
from a distance of over 15m, will reach the
blistering speed of around 40 km/h (or 25mph).
This isn’t even close to fast enough to
kill someone, or even harm them very much
at all. It might sting a little, but you’d
certainly live to bore everyone with the story
of how you got hit by a penny while walking
past the Empire State Building on your Sex
and the City walking tour.
What the bloody hell was that?
Oh a penny,
I thought would have killed me!”
Part of the reason for this is that pennies
are hopelessly un-aerodynamic. They are flat,
light, metal disks, so they encounter a lot
of air-resistance, causing them to move and
spin erratically, which significantly slows
their descent.
Furthermore, all these calculations are made
on the assumption of entirely unrealistic
perfect weather conditions, and don’t take
into account the likely effects that wind
would have on the coin.
Indeed, the Empire State Building itself creates
updraft; when wind hits the side of the building
it is forced upward, causing anything light
that is dropped off the top of the building
to be blown back up, often landing on ledges
outside the upper floors. So your projectile
penny may not even make it to the ground,
let alone the soft, gooey folds of a New Yorker’s
brain.
So what if we removed the effects of air-resistance
altogether, and encased the entirety of the
Empire State Building…
…in an airless vacuum?
If this were even remotely possible, and,
I’m afraid it isn’t,
the lack of air-resistance would allow the
penny to reach speeds of around 320km/h (or
200mph.)
This might be fast enough to cause some injury
to the top of a person’s head, but fortunately,
it still probably wouldn’t kill them.
Of course, you could simply opt to throw something
more aerodynamic off the top of the building.
Depending on the design and quality, a ballpoint
pen might remain stable enough to zip through
the air like a javelin. Scientists have been
hard at work on this concept, and have predicted
that a reasonably well made pen could fall
as fast as 320km/h under perfect weather conditions,
as fast as a penny in a vacuum.
Given that the tips of most pens are fairly
narrow and made of metal, if one hit the top
of your head, death isn’t necessarily impossible.
Of course, if you’re really intent on assassinating
someone standing outside the Empire State,
stop messing around with pennies and pens
and chuck a microwave off the top.
Not that we endorse that.
We don’t, we do not endorse that.
Oh and a little fun fact, there’s actually a secret 103rd floor above the official ‘Top Floor’.
It has a balcony with just a waist high wall to protect visitors from falling off the edge.
But I’m afraid it’s closed off to the public.
It has a balcony with just a waist high wall to protect visitors from falling off the edge.
But I’m afraid it’s closed off to the public.

What Happens When You Drop A Penny Off The Empire State Building? DEBUNKED

100 thoughts on “What Happens When You Drop A Penny Off The Empire State Building? DEBUNKED

  • February 17, 2019 at 1:39 pm
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    what if you drop a perfect sphere or an aerodynamic teardrop shaped object, made out of metal or marble ot something heavy and solid like that? and make the circumference comparable to that of the penny.

    Reply
  • February 17, 2019 at 4:36 pm
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    I wonder how much penny’s there are on windows

    Reply
  • February 18, 2019 at 12:42 pm
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    Awesome.

    Reply
  • February 18, 2019 at 6:52 pm
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    That channel seems like a pathetic parody of kurzgesagt

    Reply
  • February 18, 2019 at 9:15 pm
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    I plead not guilty. I’m innoCENT.

    Reply
  • February 18, 2019 at 9:53 pm
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    the things people say to sue

    Reply
  • February 18, 2019 at 11:12 pm
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    So dark but so much education

    Reply
  • February 19, 2019 at 4:53 pm
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    Sooooo……having been to the Statue of Liberty I’ve seen coins in the pavement below it. Pretty sure a coin could kill you if the conditions were right.

    Reply
  • February 20, 2019 at 1:49 am
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    Don’t ashhume anything

    Reply
  • February 24, 2019 at 5:15 am
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    Nice video

    Keep it up

    Reply
  • February 25, 2019 at 9:10 am
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    What if you threw the empire state building off of a penny?

    Reply
  • February 27, 2019 at 6:17 am
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    Here from optic trivia 🤣

    Reply
  • March 11, 2019 at 11:28 pm
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    Our latest Episode has been released:
    WHY DO WE GO BALD?
    https://youtu.be/OOpq4YyP3cY

    Reply
  • March 13, 2019 at 2:43 pm
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    Its good that the earth is flat.

    Reply
  • March 15, 2019 at 2:21 am
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    Unfortunately, one of the fire men at the world trade centre was killed by a falling jumper.

    Reply
  • March 17, 2019 at 8:16 am
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    So a 2.5 gram perfectly aerodynamic metal ball stands a chance?

    Reply
  • March 17, 2019 at 7:37 pm
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    DID I SEE MR. BIG SHIRTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!???? YAAAASSSSSSSSS

    Reply
  • March 21, 2019 at 7:42 pm
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    what about a bowling ball?

    Reply
  • March 28, 2019 at 10:41 pm
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    What if I drop Thor's Hammer?

    Reply
  • April 2, 2019 at 8:56 am
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    What if you dropped bullets?

    Reply
  • April 7, 2019 at 3:46 pm
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    5:30
    Wow! Well done! Bravo!
    Youtube now a days recommends videos on how to kill people effectively.

    Reply
  • April 8, 2019 at 10:54 pm
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    Actual it is 103 floors but the 103 floor is for celedertys only

    Reply
  • April 9, 2019 at 5:20 pm
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    Through a person of

    Reply
  • April 10, 2019 at 11:40 am
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    now throw off some dollar notes

    Reply
  • April 14, 2019 at 4:31 am
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    I searched this up because the Simpsons
    I just wanted to know how fast it would go

    Reply
  • April 21, 2019 at 3:15 pm
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    Our latest Episode has been released…
    HOW TO SURVIVE THE FIRST HOUR OF A NUCLEAR BLAST/BOMB/EXPLOSION! https://youtu.be/al0CVsiffu8

    We hope you like it, let us know what you think…

    Reply
  • April 24, 2019 at 12:30 am
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    What if you threw a penny from the ground to the top of the empire state building?

    Reply
  • April 24, 2019 at 10:18 am
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    Well,why don't we try the same thing with BRICKS,insted of penny.

    Reply
  • April 24, 2019 at 3:35 pm
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    Money kills

    Reply
  • April 24, 2019 at 3:35 pm
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    Money kills

    Reply
  • April 27, 2019 at 7:57 pm
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    Mr arvizu and his family and Bronko Ridic and mark borron and there is more people in volved in finding prople that are gay and killing them .they need to be investigated they claim gay people are a threat but dont say yo what

    Reply
  • April 27, 2019 at 10:27 pm
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    How it feels to chew 5gum

    Reply
  • April 29, 2019 at 2:40 am
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    Wtf is a meter
    Obviously I’m joking. I think they should make it a priority in elementary school to know both the metric and imperial systems, especially in the United States. School in general needs a massive restructuring.

    Reply
  • May 1, 2019 at 3:42 pm
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    What happens if you fly a plane in to empire state building?

    Reply
  • May 2, 2019 at 7:31 am
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    The coin will hit me and yet ill still be able to put my foot over the penny, act like im tying my shoes and slide that right into my pocket.

    Reply
  • May 3, 2019 at 4:05 am
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    but what would happen if you rolled it so it was spinning edge on ,

    Reply
  • May 14, 2019 at 3:00 am
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    2 words, Lawn Darts.

    Reply
  • May 22, 2019 at 11:05 am
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    Our latest video has been released…. CAN ANYTHING ESCAPE A BLACK HOLE? DEBUNKED!
    https://youtu.be/PeDJH2ttEPY
    So please check it out and let us know what you think.

    Reply
  • May 23, 2019 at 3:18 pm
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    i remember watching this in 2017

    Reply
  • May 23, 2019 at 11:44 pm
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    I SMELL PENNIES

    Reply
  • May 24, 2019 at 7:28 am
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    But the study is wrong. The cartoon guy is not at the top of the building. The whole science is compromised

    Reply
  • May 24, 2019 at 7:29 am
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    What if you drop a bullet?

    Reply
  • May 25, 2019 at 12:08 am
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    I thought it was just gonna hit you in the head.

    Reply
  • May 28, 2019 at 2:36 am
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    I just came here for the thumbnail…. 😐

    Reply
  • May 28, 2019 at 3:23 pm
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    Sooooo…you guys didnt get any attempted murder charges??

    Reply
  • May 31, 2019 at 2:12 pm
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    What if you fell with the penny

    Reply
  • June 1, 2019 at 4:32 am
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    Why am I watching this.

    Reply
  • June 2, 2019 at 4:27 am
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    umm ok WAIT IS did u guy here THAT?!

    Reply
  • June 2, 2019 at 4:30 am
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    Music: In the hall of the mountain king: Kevin Macleod

    Reply
  • June 2, 2019 at 6:47 pm
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    Assume spherical penny

    Reply
  • June 3, 2019 at 9:17 pm
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    Microwave lmao

    Reply
  • June 5, 2019 at 12:19 pm
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    what if I throw myself off the empire states building?

    wait I cant throw myself…

    Reply
  • June 6, 2019 at 2:16 am
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    Drop a knife of the empire state building

    Reply
  • June 10, 2019 at 2:18 pm
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    So it doesn't matter which floor a person jumps from.

    Reply
  • June 10, 2019 at 2:20 pm
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    How about an anvil? Beep beep..

    Reply
  • June 12, 2019 at 1:58 am
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    Awe, don't let the penny fall on the dark-haired guy, he's kinda cute.

    Reply
  • June 12, 2019 at 2:31 am
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    I went to the top of the Empire State Building today and threw a penny and was curious if I killed anyone

    Reply
  • June 15, 2019 at 10:54 am
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    Interesting

    Reply
  • June 17, 2019 at 6:33 pm
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    What about a golden dollar

    Reply
  • June 18, 2019 at 7:43 pm
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    Wow the penny has finally dropped

    Reply
  • June 19, 2019 at 8:26 pm
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    Hey kid, catch * flips penny off the Empire State Building and the child breaks his hand trying to catch the penny*

    Reply
  • June 21, 2019 at 4:37 pm
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    They threw the shade with the roommate

    Reply
  • June 23, 2019 at 7:57 pm
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    #fakenews

    Reply
  • June 25, 2019 at 7:33 pm
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    The penny drop is plausible because once I had a bird shit on me and I wanted die.

    Reply
  • June 26, 2019 at 8:13 pm
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    Why the bloody hell is someone saying bloody hell in a video about the United States? I just needed something to bitch about. I know the whole melting pot thing. You know at least mythbusters actually physically done this stuff.

    Reply
  • June 28, 2019 at 12:01 pm
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    drop an anvil, that would kill somebody

    Reply
  • June 28, 2019 at 5:52 pm
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    What happens if you build a tower of pennies the same size as the Empire State Building and then topple them over?

    Reply
  • June 28, 2019 at 6:09 pm
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    Wait so i wont die?

    Reply
  • June 28, 2019 at 10:24 pm
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    How dangerous would it be to drop a ten pound bowling ball off the Empire State Building?

    Reply
  • June 29, 2019 at 2:43 am
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    F you

    Reply
  • June 29, 2019 at 4:20 am
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    What about a piano?

    Reply
  • July 6, 2019 at 1:04 am
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    There was a tik tok ad before this

    Reply
  • July 6, 2019 at 6:25 am
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    HHMM

    Reply
  • July 6, 2019 at 10:20 am
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    Our latest video has been released… CAN THE INTERNET BE TAKEN DOWN / DESTROYED? – https://youtu.be/ZsL03YxGOQ0 We find out how it could be done and what would happen if there was no internet… an INTERNET APOCALYPSE?

    Reply
  • July 7, 2019 at 2:33 am
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    @Debunked, Love this vid, do you have one that explains how a brick and feather would hit the ground at the same time if they were dropped off the Eiffel Tower? I don’t know, maybe you’ve never heard that one, but that’s what I was told when I was kid, just wondering if that a load of beeswax as well. Thanx. 💖

    Reply
  • July 10, 2019 at 11:34 pm
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    This was on my 10th birthday

    Reply
  • July 12, 2019 at 12:16 am
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    Amateurs probably never seen John Wick

    Reply
  • July 16, 2019 at 4:11 am
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    What if u drop a quarter pounder burger from the top of the empire state building?

    Reply
  • July 17, 2019 at 6:16 pm
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    How the fuck are you going to get a microwave to the observation decks?

    Reply
  • July 18, 2019 at 7:03 am
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    My freind oscar did that but he threw it insded of droping it

    Reply
  • July 20, 2019 at 10:12 am
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    I want to jump off the Empire State Building.

    Reply
  • July 23, 2019 at 9:06 am
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    I watched this bcz it's super viral asf, and I'm not disappointed. 🙂👍

    Reply
  • July 25, 2019 at 11:52 am
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    Oh so it must of been you left a hole in my head, it fell like hell on my head

    Reply
  • July 25, 2019 at 7:22 pm
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    but what if I spend a penny on top of the building

    Reply
  • August 5, 2019 at 2:04 am
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    I wonder if he actually did this and he’s just telling his tale…

    Reply
  • August 7, 2019 at 10:28 am
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    Why when I saw the fact it said this have proven fake??

    Reply
  • August 7, 2019 at 4:09 pm
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    My teacher told me it would go through your hand…

    YouTubers are smarter than teachers these days

    Reply
  • August 18, 2019 at 7:30 am
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    Don't you think it's.. oh I don't know, just a tiny bit misleading to make it look like our atmosphere is that big? Cus I know it sure doesn't go out to the moon in space. yet thats what your little drawing basically showed.
    Maybe, just maybe, some idiot watching this video will think that it's actually that big, and then conclude that "greenhouse gases" and global warming are a big lie because we still have "such a big atmosphere."
    Because of that, you've succeeded in polluting earth just that tiny bit more, with your misinformation.
    Now imagine theres 100,000 idiots, out of the 21 million views this video has gotten.
    Well done. Now we're all gonna die.

    lmao. I exaggerate a little… But still. Never doubt peoples stupidity.

    Reply
  • August 20, 2019 at 9:37 pm
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    I've heard this stupid myth since elementary school. My response use to be: "If that were the case, hail would kill us all."

    Reply
  • August 22, 2019 at 6:48 am
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    I think you messed up this video by saying if the pen fell straight the whole way it could kill but then you also said wind, updraft and the atmosphere would move it around and slow an object down. Even the pen would tumble right??

    Reply
  • August 23, 2019 at 5:31 pm
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    i came to see the penny fall not to study, Boo to you mr Boo!!

    Reply
  • August 24, 2019 at 6:36 pm
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    Love it lol

    Reply
  • August 29, 2019 at 12:33 am
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    Dump a bucket of pennies

    Reply
  • August 30, 2019 at 1:31 am
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    Security guard: Hey, is that a bucket of lawn darts?
    Me: yeah
    Security guard: Are you going to throw them off the observation deck on the 86th floor?
    Me: no, of course not
    Security guard: Well all right then, carry on.
    Me: Heh heh heh, 102nd floor here I come.

    Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 5:07 am
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    so the answer is…

    Reply
  • September 4, 2019 at 1:47 pm
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    this channel is so stupid

    Reply
  • September 5, 2019 at 8:02 pm
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    4:20 now we enter exam mode from daily physics classes.

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 10:19 am
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    Wonder what would happen if you dropped a penny sized ball bearing… less resistance.

    Reply
  • September 10, 2019 at 11:56 pm
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    😂

    Reply

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