Terra Sigillata

I am bursting with local pride this morning at the summer camp stunt of a NC State University materials scientist and his students.

Ginny Skalski (@30Threads, @GinnySkal, Ginny from the Blog), local media maven and founder of the Research Triangle blog distiller 30Threads, was on the scene yesterday as – well, the title says it.

For the past three years, high school students at N.C. State University’s materials camp get to find out what happens when you drop Silly Putty from the roof of the D.H. Hill Library. Last year, the camp dropped 30 pounds. This year they dropped 50 pounds (organizers order it in bulk).

Big question: would it land with a thud, bounce, or shatter?

GO HERE to see the video and explanation of the results. The blob was dropped twice – amazing they had enough volunteers to pick up the pieces to do it a second time.

My only question is why they didn’t drop it onto a huge sheet of color Sunday comics.


  1. Fun with non-Newtonian fluids!

    They could have gotten the same data by simply pulling quickly on a normally-sized piece of Silly Putty, but where’s the fun in that? 🙂

    Might I suggest an experiment for their next attempt? Drop a 50 pound block of Silly Putty from the roof into a large vat of corn starch and water. Which shear-thickening fluid will reign supreme?

  2. #2 J-Dog
    June 19, 2009

    Cool! Can we bounce it off of Karl Roves fat noggin next?

  3. #3 Nestor
    June 19, 2009

    Crash! It breaks like porcelain… it also seems to retain rigidity afterwards, at least those big chunks looked pretty solid.

  4. #4 Jan
    June 20, 2009

    I wish we could get more kids involved in these types of experiences.

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