Surviving an Elevator Plunge

  • By Joe Seamans
  • Posted 08.26.10
  • NOVA

Everybody's worst nightmare: You're riding in an elevator, and suddenly it goes into free fall. Could you save yourself by jumping up at the last second, just before the plummeting car hits bottom? Joe Seamans, producer of NOVA's "Trapped in an Elevator," tests it out.

Running Time: 01:31


Surviving an Elevator Fall

Posted: August 26, 2010

JOE SEAMANS (Producer): Hi. I am the producer of the show you are watching right now and I am here to dispel an old elevator myth once and for all. It goes like this. If you are in a free falling elevator and you jump up right before the elevator crashes in the basement, you'll be find.

So right now, in the NOVA research elevator, we're going to test this theory and see what happens, ok? I couldn't find a guinea pig, so I'm in front of the camera doing it myself.

Come on, let's go! Ready?

Wow. I feel like I am floating. Ok, I gotta time this just right, hang on.

That was exciting. I guess it's not really a myth after all. If you believe that, you've seen way too many cartoons. To understand what would really happen, let's use our brains. If the elevator crashed going 30 miles an hour, which it easily could, I'd be going 30 miles an hour too. If I could jump up that fast, I might be fine. But I can't. You can't, nobody can. What's the take home message? Even if you jump up, you're still dead.

MAN: If that ever happens and you jump up in the air, you're still dead. It doesn't work.


Production Credits:

Produced for NOVA by
Joe Seamans
© WGBH Educational Foundation

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