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It’s not as Simple as it Seems: Bungee Jumping By Karleigh Libby


+ History of Bungee Jumping Today’s extreme sport of bungee jumping comes from a centuries old tradition performed by the people of Pentecost Island in the Pacific Archipelago of Vanuatu. Legends say that a husband and wife of the island centuries ago had a fight and the woman climbed up a large Banyan tree in spite of her anger. Once at the top of the tree, she tied vines around her ankles. When her husband climbed up after her, she jumped from the tree and so did he not knowing what his wife had done. The husband plummeted to his death but the wife survived. The other men of the village were impressed saw this to be very clever. The woman’s act soon turned into a ritual used as a sacrifice to the gods during the island’s yam harvest and as a way for boys to prove their manhood.

Top Photo: Pentecost Island. Bottom Photo: A land diver jumping from a tower built by the village.


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History of Bungee Jumping Hundreds of years later in 1979, a group of Oxford students who were members of the university’s dangerous sports club were inspired by the people of Pentecost Island after watching a film about “vine jumpers”. On April Fool’s Day of that year four of the students jumped from a suspension bridge is Bristol, England but, instead of using vines they used nylon rubber ropes. Although the four were consequently arrested for their actions, they did not stop there nor did the rest of the world. During the 1980’s the new extreme sport broke out in New Zealand and France. In 1988 the first commercial site in the world was opened in Ohakune, New Zealand by A.J Hackett. Hackett promoted the new adrenaline rush by jumping off of the Eiffel Tower. Bungee jumping was brought to America by John and Peter Kockelman of California and eventually spread to the rest of the world.

Top Left: Suspension Bridge in Bristol England. Bottom Right: the Eiffel Tower


+ The Physics of Bungee Jumping Bungee jumping is not as simple as it appears. For a jump to be done safely, there are many scientific and mathematical concepts that need to be taken into consideration. According to the Law of Conservation of Energy energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed in form. This is seen while bungee jumping. Potential energy, also known as stored energy is a vital part of bungee jumping. Elastic potential energy is found in an unstretched bungee cord and gravitational potential energy is found in the jumper while standing on a high platform.


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The Physics of Bungee Jumping Gravitational Potential Energy: Energy stored in an object due to its height in an area where the force of gravity can act on it to make it fall. Eg=mgh Where: Eg is the change in GPE in joules m is the mass of the object in kilograms h is the change in the objects height in meter

Elastic Potential Energy: Also known as Hooke’s Law, the restoring force of a spring. F=kx Where: k is the springs constant x is equal to the displacement F is the force applied


+ When the jumper steps off of the platform they first experience free fall due to gravitational potential energy. Once the bungee cord reaches its original length and then begins to stretch, the energy changes into elastic potential energy. Once the bungee cord reaches its maximum length, it acts like a spring, bringing the jumper back upwards to its original spot. This is also because of Newton’s third law of motion, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.� The earth exerts a gravitational force on the jumper and the jumper restores the force with an opposite and equal reaction of the spring.


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Impact on Society Although bungee jumping is dangerous, its absolutely harmless to those to who decide not to take part in it. It is really just another outlet for the everyday adrenaline junkie looking fora thrill. None the less, the list of possible injuries that could be sustained during bungee jumping is endless. Some include:

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Head injuries

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Broken bones

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Bruising

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Sprains

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Dislocations

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Degrading or lose of sight

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And spinal injuries


+ Impact on Society But the most common of injuries include dizziness and rope burn. The chance of death is only two in one million and there have only been approximately twenty-seven bungee jumping related deaths reported today across the entire world. With all this said, it is important to take the risks into consideration. Many of us probably remember Superbowl of 1997 when Laura Patterson a trained trapeze artist obtained a deathly head injury while practicing a bungee jump for the half time show.


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My Opinions  

After performing my research I am now fairly educated on the risks of bungee jumping. This is an activity I would participate in some day, but now I know when I go to do it, I will do my research on a safe and well taken care of facility that is ran by trained professionals. If you are going to partake in something with such severe consequences you should spend the money necessary for your safety.

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Some questions I have and some research I may do is, if you need to be licensed to train or supervise people to bungee jump. Are there bungee jumping schools? How do you get permission to bungee jump off of the Eiffel tower, Golden Gate Bridge and other buildings and monuments?

Bungee  

Bungee Jumping

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