# Edgar Allen Poe's The Pit And The Pendulum

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The unit question asks whether or not the hero of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” would realistically be able to escape the descending blade swinging on a pendulum. The question is a matter of time, is it feasible for the protagonist to escape the pendulum with the allotted amount of time. Based on standard deviation and testing a pendulum of the same scale as the one mentioned in the story, the answer is no. The protagonist mentions that he believed 10-12 periods of the pendulum would result in the blade coming in contact with his torso. Using the formula developed in class for the period of a pendulum, it would take the 30 foot pendulum described in the story about 72 seconds to complete 12 periods. Testing the actual 30 foot yielded similar results within 1-2 seconds of 72 seconds. Therefore, it is fair to say that the hero is working with 72 seconds to free himself. This does not seem like enough time to develop an escape strategy, act on the strategy, and leave without getting hit bit the pendulum. The method the hero describes involves thinking about the situation and then employing the help of nearby rats. He also mentions, “Yet one minute, and I felt that the struggle would be over,” as if to imply he had 1 minute to spare. Since he was reflecting and then enticing the rats to gnaw through the rope it is not likely that it took only 12 seconds to escape. 72 seconds does not seem like enough time for the hero to complete his escape. However, the thickness of the rope and speed of the rats are factors that could affect the outcome.

Standard deviation is a way of visualizing how spread out points of data are in a set. Using standard deviation helps to determine how rare or common an occurrence is. For example, data points falling within the boundaries of one standard deviation typically account for about 68% of data and those between (+/-)1 standard deviation and (+/-)2 standard deviations make about 27% combined. This can be better visualized by using a bell graph. Using the mean and standard deviation, the points where standard deviations occur can be drawn on the graph to better understand which data is rare and which is common.

Standard deviation was used to help solve the unit