Yesterday my Wordless Wednesday picture was of this vase full of nuts and I promised I’d post an explanation.
- I was walking in Newsham Park in Liverpool a year ago. As I went under a Horse Chestnut tree a gust of wind brought a liberal shower of Horse Chestnuts down on me. Fortunately it was a chilly day so I had a thick hat on. The one at the front is new and shows what they looked like when they fell on me.
- I don’t know why but I collected them up – it seemed like the thing to do. I probably wasn’t thinking straight – I’d just been nutted by a load of nuts on my nut.
- I dried them out, got rid of a few bad nuts and put the 122 that remained in a glass vase from Woolworths.
- If I were a modern artist I’d sell them to a gallery and call it "What the sky looks like when it falls on your head"
- The Common Horse Chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) was introduced to Britain from the Balkans in southern Europe in the 17th century. They have distinctive oval leaves. A typical mature Horse Chestnut tree is around 25m tall although some reach 35m.
- The nuts are inedible but much sought after by children. In Britain we call them Conkers and children play a game with them.
- Now the science bit: They weigh 0.6kg (1.3lbs) so the average conker is 0.05kg (0.01lbs).
- They have a volume of 0.55l or 0.0005m3 (0.12 imperial gallons 0.15 us gallons) giving an average volume of 0.0045lm3 or 4.5cm3 (0.001 imperial gallons 0.0012 us gallons) each. That gives a density of 1090kg/m3 (68.1lbs/ft3).
- Assuming the tree is 25m tall a conker falling from the top of the tree will take 2.3s to hit the ground. Assuming the conkers on average fell from half that height 1.6s to hit the ground.
- The velocity of that theoretical falling conker will be 16m/s (51ft/s) or 56km/h (35mph).
- The impact energy for our theoretical conker is 0.6J (0.8 foot-pound force). As a comparison the impact energy of a brick falling the same distance would be 370J (500 foot-pound force). Or if I was a journalist being hit by a conker is equivalent to being hit by two three millionths of an elephant falling out of a tree.
- I’ll take getting conked on my cranium by conkers over elephants any day.
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