States the Professor, “Using a barometer, determine the height of the Physics building.”
Answers Student One, “Determine the atmospheric pressure at the top and base of the building. From the density of air and the pressure difference, calculate the height.”
Answers Student Two, “Throw the barometer off the roof and time how long it takes to fall. From the acceleration of gravity and simple calculus, calculate the height.”
Finally Student Three answers, “Find the superintendent of the Physics building. Tell him that you will give him this really nice barometer if he tells you the exact height of the building.”
Observation: The hardest part was keeping track of the word count and juggling to get exactly 100 words.
This is a famous story with several variations. I first heard it many many years ago. See:
As in Critical mass
Chicago Pile-1 (CP-1) was the world’s first artificial nuclear reactor. The construction of CP-1 was part of the Manhattan Project, and was carried out by the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago. It was built under the west viewing stands of the original Stagg Field. The first man-made self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated in CP-1 on 2 December 1942, under the supervision of Enrico Fermi. Fermi described the apparatus as “a crude pile of black bricks and wooden timbers.” It was made of a large amount of graphite and uranium, with “control rods” of cadmium, indium, and silver, and unlike most subsequent reactors, it had no radiation shield or cooling system.
December 2nd also just happens to be my birthday.
Stupid Technical Advisors
So instead of getting the completed Day 47 today, you are instead getting this incoherent rant about technical advisors.
The role of the technical advisor is to assure that the plot of a story, TV show, or movie stays believable within the level of “suspension of disbelief” required by the storyline. Apparently my “technical advisor” (a close friend of mine) thinks that one of my plot devices, key to Day 47, is unlikely and/or unrealistic and/or impossible within the current norms of personal behavior and/or the Laws of Physics.
Now I have to completely re-write that section, leaving you, my poor, desperate readers waiting yet another day to find out what Eddy saw.
Oh well, as long as these fixes keep you from going “Well that’s just stupid” and stop following this story altogether, the corrections are worthwhile.