Falling Moose No Laughing Matter
When a 500-pound bull moose fell from an overpass in Maine last week, landing approximately 30-feet below and dying at the scene, newspapers, radio shows, and Internet buzz boards picked up the headline and ran. “When Moose Fall From the Sky,” “It’s Raining Moose,” and other variations lit up e-mail inboxes and some had a good laugh at the oddity of Maine wildlife news. Not so fast, we say. If moose-car collisions total cars and often kill moose and driver alike, just how greater is the damage when a moose is moving, instead of standing still in the roadway? Assuming the young, headline-making moose fell and was not running, use the equation 2as=v2. "It's really quite simple," says University of Maine Physics Professor Charles "Tom" Hess. (By the way, a=acceleration, s=distance, and v=velocity.) Hess determined the moose was traveling 29.8 mph when it hit the ground. "It's going roughly 30 mph when he hits the ground, and he's coming into a situation where there's no yield," said Hess. "If he was jumping into mud, he could probably handle it." Hess added that had the moose been running, as he suspects it was, it's velocity on impact would have been even greater.