Dropping Science: The First LEGO Man in Space

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQwLmGR6bPA&w=853&h=480]

Many years ago, my brother and I filled a jam jar with several hotel bathroom products and left it in the shed for 6 months to see if it would mutate into something (for the curious among you, it did not). This is about as far as extra-curricular science went for me as a child and so I’m somewhat humbled by the achievement of Canadian 17 year olds, Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad.

Using $400 dollars worth of equipment that they found on craigslist, a hand stitched parachute and several Saturdays worth of hard labour, the pair sent a flag wielding LEGO man up to the far reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere. At the peak of his ascent, the patriotic toy reached 80,000 feet, putting him at twice the altitude of commercial airliners, at the point where the atmosphere meets space. Not content with almost putting the little guy into orbit, the friends also attached a camera and gps to their balloon so that they could film the whole thing and relocate the intrepid explorer when he finally landed, 75 miles from his point of launch.

The only excuse I can make for my comparatively poor efforts at youth science is that if I shot something up into the sky and it came down 75 miles away from where I grew up, it would almost certainly be in the sea. That’s my reason and I’m sticking to it.

Wonderful stuff.


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