Silly Question: Can You Cook A Steak By Dropping It From A High Altitude?

Each week one of our favorite geek blogs What If? answers users' hypothetical physics questions. This morning's query got our attention: at what height would an eight-ounce steak have to be dropped from in order for it to be cooked when it hits the ground. We know you've all been asking yourselves the same question for years.

The author explains the steak's descent in relatively simple terms, first stating that objects heat considerably when coming back from space due to air compression. Citing skydiver Felix Baumgartner's recent jump from 39 kilometers as an example and running a series of simulations of steak falling from various heights, he diagrams the projected path of the meat from space.

So what exactly is the answer? It turns out that as the steak is hypothetically dropped from higher elevations, the shockwave in front of it reaches thousands of degrees (Fahrenheit or Celsius don't particularly matter at this point). This heat results in the complete charring of its outer layers. In conclusion, if the temperature is high enough, or the burn time long enough, the steak slowly disintegrates as the outer layer is repeatedly charred and blasted off. Even if most of the steak makes it to the ground, the inside will still be raw.

Got all that? Yeah, we're scratching our heads too. Check out the blog for the "complete" answer.

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