One day a science teacher gives his student the following problem.
You need to determine the height of a building and that you have a barometer.
Having just learned about barometric pressure, most of the students took the path of solving the problem by taking the barometric pressure at the base of the building and taking the pressure at the top and using the difference to determine the height of the building.
BUT one student decides to suggest the path less traveled –
Instead answering that while using the barometric pressure differential would provide an approximation of the building height a more accurate determination could be made by taking the barometer to the top of the building and dropping it and timing how long to takes to smash into the ground. Taking the time and using the formula
where is acceleration due to gravity of and is the time in seconds and is the height of the building in meters. To get the building height in feet you would use as .
BUT the student went on with the answer saying that the problem with this solution is that it would waste a perfectly nice barometer and instead suggested that they take the barometer to the building superintendent and say “we’ll give you this nice new barometer if you will just tell us how tall your building is.” thereby getting the answer and not destroying the barometer.