In time for halloween. Learning to fly (as in throwing yourself against the ground and missing)

This might be handy, if you happen to be dressed up as a ghost or flying superhero or bat, etc – the SCQ has a piece up today, that goes over the physics of learning to fly, a la Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In other words, the piece takes a look at some of the Newtonian physics needed to “throw yourself at the ground and miss.”


It’s quite well done, because it goes through the premise a single concept at a time (the above image for instance noting how to do it to fly for 1 second, and noting the caveat that since you accelerate as you fall, you need some more thinking to work out how to fly “indefinitely.”

Anyway, worth a look.

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David (@ng_dave) is Faculty at the Michael Smith Labs. His writing has appeared in places such as McSweeney's, The Walrus, and He plans on using Terry as another place to highlight the mostly science-y links he appreciates. In fact, if you liked this one, you might also like his main site generally - this can be found at

2 Responses to “In time for halloween. Learning to fly (as in throwing yourself against the ground and missing)”

  1. Dave Smeniuk

    Doesn’t he violate rule one in his ultimate explanation? I mean…that would be one hell of a high tower he would have to jump off of.

  2. David Ng

    I think he meant if you flung yourself horizontally at that defined velocity, you should be good to go. i.e. if I took a running jump where my lift-off speed was equivalent to the final number I should be able to “fly.”

    Anyway, like a true scientist, I will have a go tonight, and will report back.

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