March 29th, 2010


Freefall physics and rope climbing speed

Okay, for this problem I have already found a solution, I think. But I'm notoriously bad at physics, so I'd like to run it by you folks, just to check there's no grave error in my reasoning and calculations.

I have a character who needs to get down a pit of unknown depth in a limited amount of time (about 1 hour).

To check the how far it goes down, I have him drop a electric lamp in the pit, reasoning that it will shatter at the bottom. It's nearly completely dark, there's no air, but an Earth-like gravity. I figure it would take the lamp about 41 seconds to fall 5 miles and 57 seconds to fall 10 miles. Correct?

The character has a very long, thick carbon-fiber cable, but no proper climbing gear. With what speed would he be able to climb down? Does 5 miles per hour sound reasonable? Or is that unrealistically slow?

He also has some scraps from which he can construct a simple abseil mechanism (Uh... how do you call the mechanism that lets an elevator travel down a cable?). I've found the world record in speed rappelling is 100 m in 9 seconds. Could he keep up that kind of speed over a longer distance? (Note: cable and mechanism are designed for a high-speed elevator, so I don't think they'd overheat) Is there a chance for him to get down 10 miles in about half an hour or less this way?

And if he just jumps, it should take him the same amount of time as the lamp to reach the bottom, right?

18th century art galleries in Paris

I am at my wits' end, and a large part of my plot has just fallen apart. Help.

Basically, it's 1776, and my main character is visiting Paris. As he has quite an obsession with all manner of art (literature, theatre, painting, sculpture etc.) I thought he might visit an art gallery whilst he's there. Obviously, my first choice was the Louvre - great, until I discovered that the Louvre didn't open as an art gallery until 1793.
Since then, I have googled all sorts of combinations of "art galleries", "art museums", "paris", "1700s" and "18th century", eventually discovering - from WikiAnswers, I think - that the Louvre is the oldest art gallery in Paris, explaining why all the others I came up with opened in the 19th and 20th centuries.
I'm rather hoping that this means that the Louvre is the oldest art gallery in Paris which is still an art gallery in the present day, and that there were actually other art galleries in the 18th century which are now no longer in existence (I am clinging very grimly to the hope that this is the case). Thus, my question: is anyone here some sort of expert on 18th century Parisian art galleries, and able to tell me where my character might go, and what sort of things he might see there? (He's going to meet another character for the first time whilst stood in contemplation in front of a painting, so I'm going to need a brief description of that painting.) An art gallery a short distance from Paris might also work, but I'd have to change a few geographical details around.
Failing that, where apart from art galleries might he be able to go to get his culture fix, and meet with Other Character? Are there any famous buildings that he might visit, and go into raptures over the beauty of the architecture or some such thing?

Any help is very much appreciated.

Bad spelling in Latin

My character is a new boy at a public school in England, circa 1913. He is a very bad speller and what I need is for him to make a common error in Latin, writing one word when he means another. Extra points if it's a particularly funny mistake. Thanks for your help!

Search terms tried: "Latin errors," "Latin misspelling."