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Is it Physically Possible to Double Jump?

If you’ve played video games at all, you know the tropes. Villains leave red barrels full of explosive chemicals everywhere and for no reason, the glowing spot is the weak point, and if you press the “jump” button while you’re in mid-air there’s a good chance you’ll jump again. But is it even physically possible to perform a so-called “double jump?”

In my latest Because Science, I’m looking into the physics of this famous video game move. Spoiler alert: double jumping like Mario in Super Smash Bros. isn’t really possible. It’s true that there is some force you could apply to the air beneath you in order to push off of it, but we lack the musculature to do so. Otherwise, humans could fly.

There could be another — still impossible — way to double jump that I think is at least much more plausible. Thanks to a principle in physics called the conservation of momentum, you can change your mass in mid air in order to gain some needed upward velocity. But that means you’d have to, well, you’ll have to watch the episode above to find out. And I’m sorry (not sorry).

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