16 September 2011
Common Sense Is Assumed In Scientific Method- Or at least it should be!
Posted by Dan Satterfield
I am told reliably that this is a true story, but you always hear that!
(Although it’s likely a myth it’s a FUNNY read all the same):
Scientists at Rolls Royce built a gun specifically to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airliners and military jets all travelling at maximum velocity.
The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields. American engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the Windshields of their new high speed trains. Arrangements were made, and a gun was sent to the American engineers.
When the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken hurled out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer’s back-rest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin like an arrow shot from a bow.
The horrified Yanks sent Rolls Royce the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield and begged the British scientists for suggestions.
You’re going to love this……
Rolls Royce responded with a one-line memo:
“Defrost the chicken.”
Dan adds: True or not, God save the Queen.
Didn’t mythbusters bust this one?
They did something on it and I doubt the story is actually true- but it’s a fun read.
See Snopes: http://www.snopes.com/science/cannon.asp
Yes, I doubted the story was true. It would be interesting to know the psychology behind these type stories- any psychologists out there with something to add??
I beg to differ. The term “Common Sense” suggests adhering to commonly-held beliefs. Advancements in knowledge will not be made unless scientists are allowed – even encouraged – to speculate beyond the common-belief box.
Carl Sagan suggested (1995) : “The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true…. Cleverly designed experiments are the key”
As for the frozen bird, according to the Snopes entry, the USAF tests with frozen foul. They feel it adds a bit of safety margin.
I had forgotten about that quote from Sagan and it’s a great one- thanks for posting it! Point well made as well.
Every mention of this story seems oblivious to the fact that Rolls Royce don’t make aircraft or windshields (windscreens). They make the best ENGINES in the world, I think the gun was designed to test the impact of bird strikes on aircraft engines, and is therefore inapplicable to railway trains where the engines have never suffered from bird strikes, and I don’t suppose they ever will.
Funny story, yes. True story, um … no?
I suspect it is false as well Chorley. Illustrative nonetheless.