More Stories

Dropped Objects Run for Cover!

Have you ever noticed that when you drop small items they often disappear, only to turn up several feet away from where you dropped them, hiding behind a table leg, under a kitchen unit, or in a shoe at the other side of the room!

Welcome to the amazing ‘law of dropped objects!’

Okay, so maybe there isn’t a real law of dropped objects, but I have witnessed some quite amazing feats of escape by objects of various shapes and sizes that I have dropped whilst working on projects.

In 1984, I began to make a personal study of dropped objects, culminating in the amazing bid for escape of a small coin.


Conscious Observation

After spending several months tracking dropped items, I eventually found that I was able to predict their final locations simply by looking in the most hidden and unlikely locations. Without exception, every item had found an under-cover location.

I decided that the best thing to do when you drop an object, is to immediately follow it to observe where it lands. For a number of occasions this method of tracking went well – until one day when I dropped a coin on my table.

The coin fell from the table towards the floor. Quickly I turned to watch where it would go. I shall never forget what I witnessed next. The coin hit the floor on its edge, bounced into the air and suddenly span with a rapidity that could not be generated by the action of hitting the shallow-carpeted floor. The coin hit the floor and raced away across the room at an angle away from my path of vision. It was several minutes before I found it – hidden under the leg brace at the other end of my long table.


Scrapyard Skirmish

In 1983 I went to a local scrapyard to get some brake components for my Morris Minor car. Having successfully dismantled the drum brake of a scrapped car sitting on top of another car, I moved in my pliers to compress and extract a spring with its keeper plate. Suddenly, the pliers slipped and the spring fired the plate off its pin and I heard it fall onto the wing of the car below. I cursed aloud at the situation – there were no other easily accessible components available to replace what I had just dropped.

I spent over 20 minutes searching for this crucial part, about the size of a 1 pence coin, but nowhere could it be found! I looked everywhere. I gathered a few similar sized components and spent time dropping them from the brake drum onto the car below to see if the trajectory could be repeated to wherever the lost component had gone. Eventually, I stopped my search and contemplated the thought: ‘where is the least most likely place for something that small to land?’

I looked around and noticed an upturned brake drum buried in the earth a couple of feet away from me. Through the 3″ sized hole I could see only darkness. I knelt down and looked more closely. Gently feeling around the inside of the drum and the hard soil inside it, I suddenly felt the little plate that I had almost given up on finding. The fallen object had found the best hiding place.


 

Top