Always nice when propellorheads show they’re not humourless seekers of truth, but do have a light-hearted bonkers side. Yes I know most scientists are a bit bonkers, but it’s on a spectrum. Sometimes they do mad scientist stuff just for fun.
In April 2016, scientists worked with a bunch of schoolchildren to launch a stuffed toy into space. Sam, a toy dog, was attached to a helium weather balloon by the Morecambe Bay Community primary school. That’s a bit of a prosaic name, and the launch was even more prosaic, with the balloon being unleashed at the Midland Hotel carpark.
Things went swimmingly, and the toy pooch got to the inner limits of space, reaching the giddy heights of nearly 16 miles, at which point to balloon began a slow descent back to Earth.
This is where it gets all X Files on us. They found the balloon, but there was no sign of Sam, and despite the fact he was fitted with a GPS tracker he has never been found. Must have been abducted by aliens, I suppose.
Things took an even sillier turn last Friday. You may be unaware of the sweetmeat that is a Tunnock’s Teacake. This dome shaped bit of confectionery consists of a biscuit base, topped with marshmallow, and thinly coated in chocolate. Eating these is deeply ingrained in the culture of the populace of Scotland, the Teacake’s home turf.
Anyway, boffins from the Glasgow Science Centre thought it would be a good idea to try to pique people’s interest in science. They hied themselves off to Houston for a space launch. This was Houston in Renfrewshire, not Texas, so the sense of humour is coming out already. Then as with Sam, they attached something to a weather balloon and let go of the string.
What they attached to the balloon was Terry, a Tunnock’s Teacake. The intrepid choccie comestible got to 37,007 metres, or the very thick end of 23 miles, showing Sam the dog how it should be done. Better still, Terry made it back to terra firma intact.
Pleasingly, 33,000 people watched the live Facebook stream.