Friday, November 28, 2008

Egg Drop Failure

From today's xkcd:

Did you ever try this?  If you've absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, the egg drop experiment is a popular one for all sorts of science and technical courses, even engineering  or physics. The specific design requirements vary and usually include limitations on size and/or materials, but the main object is to create something that will hold a raw chicken egg and prevent it from breaking when dropped from a height of two or three stories. Obviously the egg represents a fragile entity (such as a human being) within a protecting structure (such as an automobile). Students compete to see whose design keeps the egg intact.  It's not unusual to have no winners and only varying degrees of failure!

I remember doing this project in my high school auto shop class. The only materials we could use to construct our egg holder were large sheets of paper provided by the teacher.  The paper was about ledger-sized and thick, and I think it was the kind we used for making covers for ourtextbooks. I can't remember if we were allowed to use multiple sheets for each design or what restrictions were placed on the use of glue or tape, but I'm sure there must have been some.  Otherwise many of us would have just coated the entire egg in glue or tape! The eggs were dropped from the second level of an outdoor stairway, onto an empty parking lot below.  I don't remember if we had any winners, or even if anyone came close, but as I remember, mine was a particularly spectacular failure and hit the ground with resounding SPLAT!

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