Life

Eggs and Toothpicks

In our high-school physics class (a dozen years ago), our fun year-end project was to construct a container out of toothpicks and Elmer’s glue that could prevent an egg from cracking when dropped from a height of about ten feet. The idea was to build toothpick crumple zones around the egg such that the egg’s deceleration would be slowed enough that it wouldn’t crack.

I took a different approach:

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That’s a parachute made entirely out of dried glue. Not only is the parachute made out of glue, the strings connecting it to the egg basket are made out of glue too. I only used twelve toothpicks for the basket, definitely setting the class maximum for glue and minimum for toothpicks.

So how did it perform?

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Not well. The parachute didn’t catch the air until about a foot from the ground, and the toothpick basket was so flimsy that the egg didn’t stand a chance. The glue strings held up though, so I think that if I had dropped it from thirty feet, it would have had a pretty good chance of landing safely.

If there needs to be a moral to this story, I guess it would be “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket if the basket is made out of twelve toothpicks and attached to a glue parachute, unless you’re going to drop the basket from a height greater than ten feet, in which case, you might be ok.”

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