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2. PHYSICS

2.12 MEASURE THE HEIGHT OF A BUILDING WITH HELP OF A BAROMETER

New after last time posted (December 21, 2013) physics
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From: Leigh Lundin <leigh_lundin#NoSpam.yahoo.com>

Your article credits an article in 1968, but I first encountered it in 1966 at Rose Polytechnic Institute (Terre Haute, Indiana), now Rose-Hulman Technical Institute.

The professor challenged every incoming freshman class to come up with solutions, which gave the impression the joke was quite old, possibly from the early 1900s.

Following are a few of my contributions:

* Break open the barometer vial. Use the contents to create a mercury oxide battery to power any number of electronic measuring instruments, e.g, sonar, laser, etc.

* If the day isn’t sunny enough to allow measuring of shadows, drill an angled hole through the barometer and, using it as a sight-line with a fence post or light pole of known height, use basic trigonometry to calculate the height of the building.

* Use the barometer’s mercury to create a reflective lens to bounce a coherent beam onto the top edge of the building, using the angle to determine the height.

My bent mind further suggests the following:

* Have a grad student hold the barometer in his hand while standing on the top ledge of the building. Push him off and measure the doppler effect of his screams.

* Collect sufficient mercury barometers to create a massive amount of C2N2O2Hg to fill the building (or less if sufficient nitro-glycerine is available). Ignite the mercury fulminate. The height of the building should be zero.


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