MAY WE RECOMMEND--
String Theories (Suicide and Spaghetti)
Items that merit a trip to the library
String theory and string theories are always big news in the physics community. Here are two reports that may or may not be related.
Why Not Suicide
"Suicidal Hanging Resulting in Complete Decapitation: A Case Report,"
A. Tracqui, et al., International
Journal of Legal Medicine, vol. 112, no. 1, 1999, pp. 55-7. (Thanks
to Joyce Takei for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, who
are at Institut de Medecine Legale,
Faculte de Medecine, Strasbourg, France, summarize their findings thusly:
This paper reports the case of a 22-year-old man, weighing 87.5 kg, who committed suicide by jumping from a bridge over a canal with a nylon rope tied around his neck. The drop height was between 3.70 and 5.30 m before the rope tightened and the subject was completely beheaded. The head sank straight under the bridge, while the torso floated 205 m downstream.... Decapitation is a complication of extreme rarity in the event of a suicidal hanging and is always related to a drop of several metres with a poorly extensible line used as the hanging ligature.
"Localization of Breakage Points in Knotted Strings," Piotr Pieranski, Sandor Kasas, Giovanni Dietler, Jacques Dubochet, and Andrzej Stasiak, New Journal of Physics, vol. 3, June 2001, p. 1-13. (Thanks to John L. Jones for bringing this to our attention.) The authors explain why they did they used cooked spaghetti:
[F]ishing line breakage was so fast that from one image to another we observed a complete conversion from an intact tight knot to completely broken fishing line. Therefore, we decided to study breaking of knots tied on cooked spaghetti. Since cooked spaghetti has a much smaller Young's modulus, the process of breaking is relatively slow and we could register several hundred images from the apparition of an initial crack until the final breaking. However cooked spaghetti may behave differently from fishing lines.
© Copyright 2001 Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)
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