Pyramid of Geezers how to assemble a perfect human pyramid

Physics students have calculated the formula for a perfect human pyramid – and have found that the best suited candidates to achieve maximum height are groups of men, women and children.

The human pyramid is a popular party game as well as a formation used in cheerleading and gymnastics which involves participants kneeling together to form a row, forming a base for another tier of participants who kneel or stand on their shoulders, backs or thighs.

Students Hayley Allison, Jordan Penney, Roger Leyser and Giles Lipscombe investigated the science behind the human pyramid, using basic calculations to try to work out the best formula for constructing the tallest pyramid possible.

Assuming that all those involved are of average weight, which is 83.6 kg for adult males, 70.2 kg for adult females and 32.2 kg for children, a taller pyramid could be made with a mixture of all three rather than any one group of a single sex or age, reaching up to six tiers in height.

In comparison, a male-only pyramid would only be able to reach a height of four tiers if the men involved were of the weight of an average male, 83.6 kg. This is because similar-weighted individuals would put too much strain on the people at the bottom of the pyramid – and an average male would not be able to hold the weight of more than four-tiers worth of people before the pyramid would come crashing down.

The calculations were made in a student paper entitled 'Pyramid of Geezers' presented in the Journal of Physics Special Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, The student-run journal is designed to give students practical experience of writing, editing, publishing and reviewing scientific papers.

Course tutor, Dr Mervyn Roy, a lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: “The aim of the module is for the students to learn about peer review and scientific publishing. The students are encouraged to be imaginative with their topics, and find ways to apply basic physics to the weird, the wonderful and the everyday.”

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