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Feynman's Experiment

Richard Feynman solves the puzzle in his own way

After some thought, I finally made up my mind what the answer was, and in order to demonstrate it, I wanted to do an experiment.
In the Princeton cyclotron lab they had a big carboy—a monster bottle of water. I thought this was just great for the experiment. I got a piece of copper tubing and bent it into an S-shape. Then in the middle I drilled a hole, stuck in a piece of rubber hose, and led it up through a hole in a cork I had put in the top of the bottle. The cork had another hole, into which I put another piece of rubber hose, and connected it to the air pressure supply of the lab. By blowing air into the bottle, I could force water into the copper tubing exactly as if I were sucking it in. Now, the S-shaped tubing wouldn't turn around—but it would twist (because of the flexible rubber hose), and I was going to measure the speed of the water flow by measuring how far it squirted out of the top of the bottle.
I got it all set up, turned on the air supply, and it went "Puup!" The air pressure blew the cork out of the bottle. I wired it in very well, so it wouldn't jump out.
Now the experiment was going pretty good. The water was coming out, and the hose was twisting, so I put a little more pressure on it, because with a higher speed, the measurements would be more accurate. I measured the angle very carefully, and measured the distance, and increased the pressure again, and suddenly the whole thing just blew glass and water in all directions through the laboratory. A guy who had come to watch got all wet and had to go home and change his clothes (it's a miracle he didn't get cut by the glass), and lots of cloud chamber pictures that had been taken patiently using the cyclotron were all wet, but for some reason I was far enough away, or in some such position that I didn't get very wet. But I'll always remember how the great Professor Del Sasso, who was in charge of the cyclotron, came over to me and said sternly, "The freshman experiments should be done in the freshman laboratory!"

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
(pp 64-65)

Richard Feynman surely was not joking when he, a very long time ago, wrote his devastating report on NASA and the space shuttle after the first one crashed. A very ugly story - absolutely no real action was taken to prevent a second disaster; which inevitably came. The saddest and ugliest part of it is, by the time (July 2005) the shuttle was put in use again after two years of fixing the foam insulation which caused that second crash, a piece came off again. I have to tell you, I tv-saw one of NASA's top men on that occasion and was absolutely disgusted by this character; no discernible difference between him and a political administrator.
Check out what else is still going on at NASA.

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