MIT Study Says Don't Walk in the Rain

A rainy day in Boston for most of us means, well, carry an umbrella. But if you happen to be on the faculty of MIT, it’s a perfect chance to show off your physics chops.

Professor Walter Lewin recently set out to determine the long-debated question: Which method of getting home in the rain keeps you the driest? Is it best to walk slowly and have most of the rain fall on the top of your head? Or is it better to make a dash through the rain, cutting down your exposure to the elements? Well strap on your running shoes, it turns out that you’re drier if you run.

If you feel like flashing back to your Physics 101 class, you can see Lewin’s full explanation in the video below. If you don’t have 18 minutes to spare, suffice it to say that a person leaning forward and running quickly gets less wet than one strolling through the rain. Maybe it’s obvious, but he goes into all the details, which involve something about vectors and angles and velocity. (I was an English major, can you tell?)

Sometimes science comes in handy. Cue “The More You Know” music.