Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Winston Churchill Gets Hit By A Car

On December 13, 1931, Winston Churchill got hit by a car. At the time, he was flustered, lost, and getting out of a cab in New York City. He went to cross 5th Avenue, but made a rather understandable mistake. In England, a peculiar country at best, all cars drive on the left; in the United States they drive on the right. When Churchill stepped into the road, he looked to the right. There were no cars coming. This was understandable, since as any car coming at him would also happen to be coming at him from the left.

The car that hit Churchill was going about 30 miles per hour at the time. He was swept up by the car’s cowcatcher and pushed along for a bit until the car was able to come to a stop. Churchill, ever the gallant, managed to tell the police at the scene of the accident that he himself was entirely to blame. This was despite bleeding profusely from the head and suffering from a fractured nose and two cracked ribs.

While still in the hospital, Churchill wrote to his friend Professor Lindemann, asking Lindemann to calculate “THE IMPACT OR SH0CK TO STATIONARY BODY TWO HUNDRED POUNDS OF MOTOR CAR WEIGHING TWO THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED POUNDS TRAVELING THIRTY OR THIRTYFIVE MILES PER HOUR STOP.” I’ll let you do the calculations yourself. Professor Lindemann wrote back with his answer and added that the “RATE [IS] INVERSELY PROPORTIONAL [TO] THICKNESS [OF] CUSHION SURROUNDING SKELETON AND GIVE OF FRAME,” aka that Winston Churchill was a touch fat.

It took Churchill nearly two months to recover effectively from getting hit by the car, but luckily he was able to write an article about it, and start making money off of it, in less than a month. Later, he went on to become Prime Minister of England.

If you have very good vision and a magnifying glass, you can read a copy of his article here. If you are interested in his telegram to his friend Lindemann, it is here and the reply is here.

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