Four Trapped in an Elevator

Four Trapped in an Elevator

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4627-8.ch016
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In this physics/psychology related integrative project, gravitation acting on the elevator riders is discussed in psychological terms. It may be interesting to portray some characters and convey their emotional states and actions in this unusual situation. Science-based themes that serve as inspiration for this project refer to the physical concepts of gravitation as a natural force causing objects with mass to attract one another, acceleration due to gravity, and the potential energy of the stuck elevator. This project is also about an artistic interpretation of psychological and social aspects of the unusual and stressful circumstances.
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The unusual and stressful situation caused by a stuck elevator relates to the physical condition of people trapped in the elevator who might ponder about the possible effects of gravitation. At the same time, we may seek interpretation of psychological and social aspects of these circumstances. The further text focuses on the concepts of acceleration and gravity.

The objective of the project is to depict attitudes of four different individuals who never met before, and show their feelings that could arise in the elevator, when it becomes a source of a sudden change, a frozen experience that became scary. It may be interesting to present the event from the four perspectives, each from the point of view of one person that is waiting for a rescue. After gathering some information about artistic and graphical concepts and examining ways to depict people and their activities, the task is to portray people and artistically convey their emotional states and actions they would choose to entertain in this tense time of confinement in an elevator. It may also be interesting to imagine how interactions between trapped people would change depending on circumstances: whether they are trapped in an elevator inside of a building or placed on its front elevation, which allows viewing a street; or they got stuck underground in a subway, in a cable car installed in a ski area, or between skyscrapers in a city center.

Figure 1 shows a decorated elevator (that is not scary yet, maybe filled with the elevator music).

Figure 1.

Anna Ursyn, Elevator Art. (© 2012, A. Ursyn. Used with permission)


There is an impact between a static condition of a person waiting in an elevator as a passenger and a dynamics of the results one does achieves after leaving it. All elevator riders are still, yet everyone in a different fashion. They visualize where they go and why: so many different tasks, ideas, and endeavors. Floors send sudden glimpses, whenever the elevator stops. One rides toward myriads of issues, has one’s own lists to do, and everyone sets it up differently, on a different floor.

Four people, all have different emotions

The people feed off one another with their emotions.

Small compact area

Examine elevator

Lots of buttons.

People in elevator are

Mad because he is going to miss his basketball game

Content, wants o play card, since they are going to be there for a while anyways

Laughing, because “when does this really actually happen to someone”

Talking on the phone/playing game on phone, trying to get ahead of someone.


Physical And Psychological Conditions Of Elevator Riding

To understand this set of circumstances better, one may want to examine the forces that act on the elevator and on four strangers accidentally locked in a small space, first in the time when it works properly and then when it is stuck. Gravitation is a natural force causing that objects with mass attract one another. Newton’s law of universal gravitation states that every mass attracts every other mass in the universe in direct relation to the product of the two masses and to the inverse square of the distance between them (Stock, 2012). Gravitation provides objects that have mass with their weight. We will focus on acceleration acting due to gravity and the potential energy of the stuck elevator. In terms of the quantum field theory, gravitation remains a not completely understood force; a common unified theory for universal forces does not yet account for gravitation Craft, 2012).

The notion of gravity will surely come to mind of the entrapped people. They may keep in mind that no shield can protect them from gravitation forces (We may think about gravitation (g) as a natural force causing that objects with mass attract one another. The same way as the gravitational field attracts our elevator to the Earth’s center, it controls the orbit of the Moon, keeps planets moving around the Sun, causes the rising and falling tides, and many other phenomena. The strength of the gravitational Earth’s field is equal to the acceleration of objects that are under its influence: g = 9.81 m/s2 = 32.2 ft/s2 and thus the velocity of falling object increases every second by 9.6 m/sec.

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