Natural Disaster Movies, and elevator scenes

Saturday, June 10, 2006 10:21 AM
I just saw a couple of minutes of a natural disaster movie, on the SciFi Network, just as the earthquake hit.

One of the scenes was of 2 kids , and an older man stuck in an elevator. So here's my question.

Why do all of these type of movies always get the feefalling elevator wrong?

Wouldn't the effect of the elevator freefalling, after the cables snap, be identical to any other freefall ride that I've ever ridden?

So, wouldn't the people trapped, in the freefalling elevator, actually become airborne during the first few moments, and quite possibly hit the roof of the elevator car.

Saturday, June 10, 2006 10:38 AM
Yes and No.

There would be a little bit of, for lack of better words "airtime", in such an event, but you wouldn't be hitting the ceiling and your feet probably wouldn't even leave the floor. It would be more of a momentary feeling.

Keep in mind that many drop towers actually pull you down a little bit instead of allow pure freefall. S&S towers especially.

Saturday, June 10, 2006 12:24 PM
I always wondered if you jump up right before the elevator (or free fall ride) hits the ground, would you survive. Time to call Mythbusters.
Saturday, June 10, 2006 12:31 PM
But aren't we all forgetting about the Safety Elevator devices that Mr. Otis demonstrated over a 100 years ago?

I thought the idea was if the main elevator cable snapped, there were track mounted safety devices which would prevent the car from freefalling.

Of course, this is Hollywood we are talking about.

Saturday, June 10, 2006 1:19 PM
Mythbusters did do this in one of their earlier episodes.

Of course when they did it, they diconnected all of the safety devices that would have stopped the elevator in a few feet.

I believe they did do the "jump before the hit" theory and their crash dummy Buster got really messed up.

They used to have the video on the website, but it has been awhile, and their is new vids in its place. *** Edited 6/10/2006 5:22:14 PM UTC by Wild Willy***

Saturday, June 10, 2006 2:57 PM
Some notes:

The elevator is still rubbing against the walls a lot as it falls, so there is a significant amount of friction. For this reason, it's not a pure freefall, and I don't think you'd leave the ground.

Jumping right before the elevator hits the ground is completely useless. Completely. Say the elevator is falling at 50 mph. Unless you are able to squat down and jump from 0 mph to 50 mph vertically, you're not going to change your absolute velocity enough and will still hit the ground... only maybe at 48 mph.

Saturday, June 10, 2006 3:13 PM
In a perfect vaccum wouldn't the people in the car fall at the same rate as the elevator anyway? So in a 100% scientific thing your feet wouldn't even leave the ground, right?
Saturday, June 10, 2006 3:17 PM
^In a perfect vaccum the people in the car would explode from the internal pressure of their internal fluids and gasses falling out of solution and vaporizing ;).

You still would momentarily leave the floor though, because you still have normal force even in a vaccum.

Saturday, June 10, 2006 4:50 PM
S&S Towers shoot you both up and when your at the top, they also push you down more than gravity pulls you down.

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