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Students at Israeli university perfect the ‘eggdrop’

December 2, 1997

HAIFA, Israel (AP) _ Yair Solomon packed a raw egg in a jar of apricot jelly, placed it in a plastic tube, sealed it with a water balloon and used a homemade launcher to fire it from a nine-story building.

Three seconds later, the contraption exploded on impact but the egg rolled onto the concrete intact, making Solomon the winner Monday of a contest of creative minds at Israel’s foremost technical university.

Solomon, a 23-year-old chemical engineering student at the Technion _ Israel’s version of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology _ wasn’t the only one who came up with a way to drop an egg 100 feet without breaking it. But his rocket-propelled egg was the fastest.

The eggdrop was sponsored by Technion’s aeronautics and space program and Solomon received a free trip to New York and a visit to the NASA space center.

Second place went to two computer engineering students who placed their egg inside a toy hot air balloon that floated to earth in 3.2 seconds. An ``egg-copter″ propelled by Popsicle sticks and equipped with its own cotton-ball landing pad came in third, at 5.8 seconds.

The 65 participants used everything from Silly Putty to toilet paper, Styrofoam cups packed with honey and plastic Coke bottles weighted down with water to package the egg and toss it off the roof of the school’s architecture building.

One group used children’s water wings pasted to a cardboard tray to float the egg down to the ground. The concept ultimately failed when the tray landed upside down, and the egg, though intact, didn’t touch the ground.

Many other attempts also flopped, with the egg and the delivery system exploding into a thousand pieces, sending the hundreds of students who made up the audience into laughter.

And what exactly did students learn from the eggdrop exercise?

That ``engineering is a profession that is very, very creative and it requires imagination,″ said Technion president Zeev Tadmor. ``There are a lot of different solutions. ... Some may fail, and that is also an experience an engineer must have.″

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