As I sit calculating the probability of something falling from the sky and hitting something it is not supposed to hit, I think to myself, “This is what I’ve always wanted to do.” Really, when I get to do interesting things and make sense of numbers, I feel very happy and I appreciate my Daddy that much more. We played cards and dominoes and craps (dice). I suppose his time in the Navy got him going with the cards and the dice.
I have said before, I think he put his skills to good use teaching his sons mathematics and more specifically probability. He didn’t really set out to teach us math. I think he just wanted more worthy opponents, so he felt like he needed to teach us a little more about the games he enjoyed.
And yes, he would give us a roll of pennies and teach us a little about gambling and a lot about life.
So as I considered the shapes of the objects falling from the sky and the shapes of the objects on the ground that I didn’t want to be hit, I thought about “Pennies from Heaven.”
It is a pretty song which begins, “Oh every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven.
Don't you know each cloud contains pennies from heaven?” Then being a math guy, I start worrying about getting hit in the head with a penny. You’ve heard the old myth that if you get hit by a penny dropped from the Empire State Building, it would hit you so hard it would kill you.
That’s not true. Now, a bowling bowl or something that is more aerodynamic like a ball point pen might cause that kind of damage, but not a penny.
As a matter of fact, a number of years ago, a physics professor at the University of Virginia let himself get hit in the head with a whole bunch of pennies. A helium balloon was used to carry them into the air and the professor rigged a radio control gadget on the balloon to release the pennies.
The professor really didn’t set out to get hit in the head, he was trying to catch them and ultimately prove that they wouldn’t hurt you. The professor noted that the pennies just bounced off of him like big raindrops, or bugs or tiny hail. He didn’t get any bruises or injuries, but had a great time.
He was probably showing his students that the pennies fell more like leaves than bullets, because of the shape of the pennies. He noted that since the pennies were aerodynamically unstable, the air pushes up on them, halting their acceleration.
Over the past week, we have been pelted with rain in my neck of the woods. I actually enjoy standing in the rain. I’m not real sure why, but I do. The song, “Pennies from Heaven,” notes that we should turn our umbrellas upside down so we can catch the falling pennies. I’m not sure how many pennies you could hold in an umbrella though (without it going inside out).
With those pennies caught in the umbrella, you are supposed to trade them for a package of “sunshine and flowers.” Pennies don’t go too far these days. Heck, dollars don’t go too far either.
But I will tell you this, the song also says, “If you want the things you love, you've got to have showers. So, when you hear it thunder, don't run under a tree. There'll be pennies from heaven for you and me.”
I guess the bottom line is, love the showers and don’t worry about getting hit in the head with pennies so much.
Read more stories at www.CranksMyTractor.com