A skydiver has shed light on a fundamental area of scientific inquiry.
Namely, he's answered the question asked by anyone who has seen the moment in the film Mary Poppins when a gust of wind blows away a lineup of undesirable candidates for the position of the Banks children's new nanny and the magical Mary Poppins floats down from the sky, supported by an umbrella.
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Erik Roner jumped from a hot air balloon while holding onto a large patio umbrella to see if it could slow him down enough to demonstrate any of the composure that our favourite nanny displays as she calmly descends from the clouds.
The finding is, sadly, that wind shreds his umbrella to pieces. But the umbrella does seem to slow Roner's fall for a while before it flips inside out and loses its covering.
He lets go and pulls his backup parachute to land safely on the ground.
However, there's still a fundamental Mary Poppins problem that must be answered. For as you recall, at the end of the film, she flies away with the very same umbrella.
Thankfully, science has investigated this important question in a study published in the Journal of Physics Special Topics. And it's possible.
Given extreme weather conditions with the perfect speed, direction and a good, strong umbrella, the researchers concluded you could fly up, up and away.
Expi-ala-docious — no magic required.
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