Swallowing gum and killing people with pennies

I swallowed a piece of gum a couple of weeks ago while drinking a shooter of tequila at Jazzit. My initial reaction was panic, but I soon realized that I was neither choking nor in any great discomfort. I recalled the great story I was told growing up that if you swallow a piece of gum it stays in your body for seven years. I’d never swallowed an actual piece of chewing gum before so I decided to do some investigating (which consisted of one Google search).

I got this from Ask Yahoo:

…a newsletter focusing on health myths addressed the topic of swallowing chewing gum. In their opinion, it's not the healthiest thing you can do, but if you do swallow your gum, it will simply pass through your system undigested into your stool (much like fiber).

Turns out I’m safe, but this made me wonder how many other times I was lied to by adults as a child. If you drop a penny from the top of the Eiffel Tower, it could kill someone, right? Wrong! I found this:

…every country in possession of a tall building has a corresponding legend about murdering people by dropping change from it. It's difficult to choose which aspect of the legend says more about human nature — our ignorance of the laws of physics or our insatiable bloodlust — but in either case, it's one more reason not to visit France.

Let's assume the good folks at the Empire State Building are lying, and pennies rain down from the roof of the place daily in a veritable hail of copper. The Empire State is 1,250 feet tall, so a cent dropped from the top would hit the ground at around 280 feet per second. Factor in a penny's light weight and flat, non-bullet shape, and the odds are the tumbling coin would barely break the skin. This is why, for instance, large hailstones sting but do not, say, pierce a skull and shoot downwards into a human torso, like a hot knife through a bag of exploding red butter.

I can’t believe this. I don’t know what to think any more. My life has fallen apart today.

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7 thoughts on “Swallowing gum and killing people with pennies

  1. Hmmm. I never heard about that penny thing (but thanks, I'll scare my future kids with it!) but my parents always told me that thing about the gum. Never listened to them, though. Been swallowing gum all the time since I was seven (that's when they started telling me that). I always wished I'd get murdered and they'd do an autopsy and find tonsa gum in my tummy. Yum.

    …..I can't believe you freaked out about it so much, you actually Googled it. 0;p You amuse me.

  2. Large hailstones may not kill you but in the Little House on the Prairie books one guy gets knocked out by a hailstone. I know the books aren't 100% factual but they are based on real occurrences.

    Now any heavy blow to the head, even ones that seem inconsequential can knock you out and even kill you. If a hailstone can do that, then yeah, a penny could. That guy is wrong.

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