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 Subject: Umbrellas and Parachutes Category: Science > Physics Asked by: burnt_toast-ga List Price: \$2.00 Posted: 12 Sep 2004 16:23 PDT Expires: 12 Oct 2004 16:23 PDT Question ID: 400286
 ```If I jump off of the roof of 30-storey building holding an open umbrella, will it work like a parachute?```
 Subject: Re: Umbrellas and Parachutes Answered By: digsalot-ga on 12 Sep 2004 18:38 PDT Rated:
 ```Hello there Regardless of how large the umbrella was, you would fall rapidly. An umbrella has a "hinged" canopy support while a parachute has a "shrouded" support. In other words, the way umbrellas are designed, when too much wind hits them from beneath, they turn "inside out." Whatever hinging mechanism is used, it connects somewhere in mid-canopy allowing this inside-out action to take place. A parachute on the other hand has shrouds (lines) connected to the outer rim of the canopy preventing it from turning "inside out." Regardless of how much air pushes up beneath it, the shrouds hold the edges down. An umbrella a 100 feet across would still give you a hard landing while a relatively small parachute can get you down safely. Please notice I did not take the height of the building into account. A 30 story (roughly 300 foot drop) may not be long enough for a chute to open in the first place. Cheers Digs```
 burnt_toast-ga rated this answer: and gave an additional tip of: \$1.00 `sweet.`

 ```An umbrella would have to be improbably huge in order to function as a parachute for a human being. Consider that the canopy of a BASE-jumping parachute is around 200 square feet in area. Have you ever seen an umbrella that was anywhere near that size? I don't think so. Even if the umbrella were sufficiently large, it would almost certainly be yanked from your hand shortly after you began your descent.```
 ```Great answer, Digs! In fretting about the small size of the umbrella, I quite ignored its critical structural difference from a parachute.```
 ```Even if you were to build an umbrella both big enough and strong enough you'd still have a hard landing. A circular parachute has a central vent to stop it rocking - an umbrella doesn't, so it will side-slip and come down faster. You, hanging on to the handle, will be swinging around all over the place, so you're in for a rough ride as well. Ian G.```
 ```I tested this directly as a youngster by jumping off the back porch steps, probably about 8 or 10 feet off the ground. I was a skinny little kid and couldn't have weighed more than about 60 lb. at the time. In that short distance, no matter how hard I held onto the umbrella handle and tried to keep it vertical, it twisted in my hand and wouldn't hold the position it had to to act like a parachute. It tipped over and dropped me, and I landed pretty hard. Nevertheless, I kept trying it until I had bashed up my mother's umbrella pretty well. I have to tell you also that I was wearing one of her silk scarves as a cape to aid the effect of flying that I hoped to achieve, and that didn't actually help much either. So I wouldn't recommend trying this from 30 stories. Archae0pteryx```