One day, during the school earthquake drill, Ms. Kassil’s 5th period STEM Physics Class had an interesting conversation. It appears that students often think that the ceiling tiles are extremely light, and don’t have much capability in the offensive front, so it was decided to simulate a situation where a tile would fall on a student during an earthquake.
The class found that one ceiling tile is about 5.5 pounds, and that on average, the distance from the ceiling to an unsuspecting student’s head will be 4.25 feet. Since the tile will go about 5 miles per second, whatever it falls on will have the force of 281 pounds (1,250 newtons) brought upon it. That is heavier than a giant panda!! Channel that force into a small surface area, like the corner of the tile hitting a head, and it’s about 900 psi (how much pressure in pounds is being applied in square inches).
Thanks to Ms. Kassil and her class’ discovery, I think we can all concur that hiding under chairs and tables is the safest place to reside during an earthquake.