Assassin's Creed: Jumping into haystacks will kill you

In today’s “Don’t try this at home” news, a University study has determined that despite what Assassin’s Creed would have you believe, taking a leap of faith into a haystack will probably kill you.

And before you ask, yes, this research from the physics department at the University of Leicester was prompted by the Ubisoft game, as described in the report’s introduction:

The popular game franchise “Assassin’s Creed” often depicts game characters leaping off tall buildings into piles of loose hay or straw lying on the ground or in a cart, by diving head first off a building, then executing a half-summersault to land on their back into the pile of straw. While loose straw does undoubtedly provide cushioning from falls, the amount of straw used to cushion a character’s fall is always the same, no matter the height of the jump. Common sense dictates that the amount of cushioning, in this case, the height of a pile of straw, should be related to the height of the fall being cushioned. This is due to the increased kinetic energy of the jumper, which needs to be dispersed slowly

What follows is a pretty comprehensive study that looks at “the cushioning force provided by a pile of straw” – specifically, a standard, loose-packed pile of around 1.5 metres tall, a standard haystack height. The physics department then calculated safe jumping heights. While anything below 13 metres is probably safe (providing that you land correctly), hitting the hay from much higher up is not going to be a fun experience.

Technically, the university says, you’d probably survive a fall from 50 metres… but you’d suffer “severe injuries” associated with an impact of around 100g. That is, of course, on top of the scratches and unpleasantness you’d suffer from landing in a pile of dried grass – something else Assassin’s Creed doesn’t really address.

If you’d like to know more, the University’s findings are all published online in the Journal of Physics Special Topics, as found by Games on net.

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