Cracking the code

By By Liz Dupont

By Liz Dupont

A crowd laughed and cheered as a mass of plastic cups, toothpicks and one raw egg fell three stories with a resounding splat on the cement below.

The event was the first Egg-Drop Contest, held by the Society of Physics Students last Thursday at the William Browning Building. The event drew 14 contestants and nearly 30 spectators.

“We came up with the idea because we wanted an activity that would bring physics students together, and catapults take too long,” said Micah Jeppsen, Society of Physics Students member and coordinator of the event.

The rules were simple: Drop a protected egg from a building onto a target without breaking it; the surviving egg inside the container weighing the least wins. Prizes were also awarded for creativity, best dressed, device with the most advanced technology and best device by a non-science major.

Entries ranged from simple containers made of plastic cups to complex contraptions involving balloons, streamers and Vaseline.

The competition started on the stairwell balcony of the Browning Building’s third floor. Passersby were quickly drawn to the spectacle as three entries in a row-all made of plastic cups and napkins-were flattened on the pavement below, splattering egg yolk when they landed.

When 10 of the 14 entries’ eggs remained intact after the first drop, judges decided to raise the stakes and move to the balcony of the eighth floor. Only two entries withstood the fall.

The crowd’s favorite entry, drawing the most cheers, was a rocket-like device made of poster board. Falling straight as a missile, the rocket was a spinning blur, almost whistling against the wind. Landing dead center on the target, the nose smashed flat and the crowd applauded as yolk leaked out the sides of the contraption.

The first-place prize, a $225 gift card to the University Bookstore, went to a Styrofoam box filled with packing peanuts.

“I was a little skeptical it would work,” said winner Weston Edwards, a sophomore in mechanical engineering. “I had competed in an egg drop before and failed miserably.”

Second place, a $100 gift card to the U Bookstore, went to a massive structure made of electrical tape and wooden dowels with streamers-by far the most complex entry.

“I spent $20 and three hours on this thing,” said contestant Lucas Smith, a junior in economics. “I’m glad it won me something.”

Third place, a $50 U Bookstore gift card, went to Gary Finnegan, a graduate student in physics. His entry, the lightest entry to survive the first round, was a box made of flowerbox foam.

The Society of Physics Students hopes to make the egg drop an annual event that will attract more people each year.