Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How Strong Was Hercules?

In order to complete one of his Twelve Labors, Hercules needed Atlas's help, but Atlas was busy holding up the heavens. Hercules agreed to hold the heavens while Atlas helped him out, and then gave Atlas the heavens back. I wanted to know how strong Hercules actually was to hold up the heavens. Taking the radius of the earth to be 6,371 km, and the surface area of a sphere to be 4*pi*r^2, I found the surface area of the earth to be about 5.1*10^14 m*m. Multiplying by atmospheric pressure (101.325 kPA= 101325 N/m*m) I found the force the earth's atmosphere, the heavens, exerts downward to be about 5.2*10^19 N. That means Hercules would have to exert a force equal to that upwards, that's about 10 exa-pounds, or 10 mega-pounds * 10 mega pounds * 10 mega-pounds!!! If every human being on earth lifted the maximum amount of weight ever lifted by a human being (6,270lbs) once a day, it would still take more than 600 years to match that. I guess Hercules really was strong.

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