A Tower and a Barometer

According to an old legend at MIT, a physics professor once asked the following question on a final exam: How could a barometer be used to determine the height of a tower? To answer the question, most students worked out complex equations based on the fact that air pressure (which is what a barometer measures) decreases at higher altitudes. But one student made three suggestions instead: 1. Measure the length of the barometer, then use the barometer as a ruler and measure the tower. 2. Drop the barometer and time its fall, keeping in mind that the acceleration of falling objects is about 32 ft/sec^2. 3. Find the person who built the tower and say, “I’ll give you a nice barometer if you tell me how tall your tower is.”

Source: Kaplan ACT 2012: Strategies, Practice, and Review

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s