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My friend insists that if you are in an elevator and the cable breaks and you fall to the ground, you'd be killed. I still can't see why you couldn't jump up at the last second and save yourself from the impact. Who's right?

-- Dead and Not Dead, San Diego

If it makes you feel better while you're plummeting, then go right ahead and believe you'll be just fine if you time your jump perfectly. You won't be, but at least it will make your last moments peaceful. But maybe you're the same guy who wrote in to ask why a fly in your car doesn't get squished inside the back window when you're traveling 80 down the freeway. Did we all sleep through physics? Anyway, elevatorwise, both you and the car are moving at the same rate of fall. What, 50 feet per second? One hundred? Pick a number. So, how fast can you jump? Five feet per second? Ten? That's a reasonable guess unless you have some bionic parts we're not aware of. That leaves you with a considerable downward deficit. You'll still be falling rather than rising when the Otis hits the fan.

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