Why do things fall? What makes them fall? Sir Isaac Newton gave us the answers a few hundred years ago! However, owing to the (not-so-recent) fall from my motorbike, I’ve been forced to think about the non-mathematical aspects of a fall. More specifically, the incident gave me an insight into what happens “during” a fall.
A fall is usually a two-step process – the loss of balance and a misplaced center of gravity.
The loss of balance usually occurs when in movement, we encounter an interruption to the controlled motion. When at rest, it is usually due to external factors – like a stool cracking under your weight.
A misplaced center of gravity is more an internal loss of bearings. As soon as the loss of balance occurs, our brain tries to correct it by altering our body’s center of gravity. If we are lucky, we manage to avoid the fall when our brain is successful. Many times though, our brain gives up after trying a bit and the body gives into the fall. This is when the mind goes into damage-control – trying to take the impact in a certain position or angle so as to avoid serious damage.
The coolest part of a fall (that I have experienced) is the time-shift that happens during the fall – everything slows down! Read on to know what happened!
That day, on my way back to office after a lunch outing, I was riding at about 60Kmph (~40Mph) while descending under a fly-over. I was riding behind (specifically a little towards the left) of an auto-rickshaw. The driver of the auto took a sharp right (as if to avoid something on his left). Once the auto shifted its line of motion, I saw what he tried to avoid – an ambulance parked right under the fly-over! Reacting, I applied my brakes, only to realize that there was sand on the road which I skid over. Thus began my fall. As soon as I realized I was losing my balance, time slowed down. My mind shifted to damage-control mode.
The first command my mind gave was to let go of the bike – which I did. The bike slid off and I got separated from the machine.
I was still sliding forward towards the parked ambulance. I thought it was probably due to the sand again – what can I do about that?
Next, I wondered what an irony it would be if I had hit the ambulance – would I be taken in the same ambulance to the hospital?
My thoughts were still racing – wow! This is cool!
I had recently bought a new mobile phone. I suddenly wondered if it could be damaged. I then realized I was falling onto my right side and my mobile was in my left pocket – so it should be safe!
By this time, I came to a sliding halt just a few inches shy of the hind tires of the ambulance. I stayed still for a few seconds. Time returned to its original speed. Though all this happened in a matter of about three seconds, it seemed a lot longer than that! Then, I slowly got up trying not to aggravate any injuries that I may have incurred. Thankfully, there weren’t any serious ones – except for a few bruises and torn clothes!
I got up and assessed the damage to my bike – it looked alright. By then, some passersby stopped and inquired if I was alright. One of them cursed the ambulance driver for such erratic parking and the BBMP for the sand on the road, then offered me some water, which I gladly accepted.
Soon after, I started my bike, went to a cloth store nearby, purchased new clothes and returned to office!