BBC Learning Zone Clips

CLIP 14354

Terminal velocity - why do cats have nine lives?

Terminal velocity - why do cats have nine lives?
Key Info
  • Terminal velocity - why do cats have nine lives?
  • Duration: 02:44
  • James May explains why a cat has a better chance of surviving a big fall than a human. It's all to do with cats having a non-fatal terminal velocity. As a falling object accelerates, drag builds up; when this equals the downward force of gravity, the object hits a constant speed or its terminal velocity. This speed varies with different shapes and sizes; a falling human has a terminal velocity of 120 mph, whilst a cat's is just 60 mph. This is because smaller things have a larger surface area relative to their mass than bigger things, so air resistance has a greater effect. First broadcast on 'James May's Things You Need to Know' on BBC Two in August 2012.
  • Subject:



    Phys: Forces - Motion

  • Keywords: JamesMaysThingsYouNeedToKnow, James May, forces, motion, terminal velocity, air resistance, drag, Isaac Newton
Ideas for use in class
  • Could be used in KS4 physics as a fun way of introducing terminal velocity.
Background details
  • Clip language : English
  • Aspect ratio : 16x9

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