By the end, the yolk was on the spectators.
To cries of "Gross!" and "Splat!" at the annual Egg Drop Contest yesterday, eight George Washington University engineering students proved you can, without breaking it, drop an egg 67 feet from the top of a four-story building, provided the egg is properly packaged.
Nine others failed when their eggs broke, oozing, dripping and, in some cases, splattering on the audience.
The eggs were packaged in coffee cans, rocket-shaped cardboard tubes, plastic bags, a rubberized boot, a plastic Shasta bottle. They were padded with crumpled newspaper, tissue paper, Jell-O, grease, popcorn, potato chips.
"The potato chips will absorb the crushing energy of the egg. I fluffed them," said contestant Annette Eichhorn, 23, of the District of Columbia.
Self-propelled and remotely guided structures were not allowed, and the vehicles had to be of limited size, somewhat smaller than a breadbox. Nor was ground support, such as a pile of Kleenex, permitted. The eggs had to be whole, uncooked, U.S. Grade A.
It was not enough simply that an egg survive the fall. A bull's-eye was chalked on the pavement of the drop zone, and the entries were scored, by six hard-boiled student judges, on weight, speed and accuracy, as if they were payloads streaking for Moscow.
The performance of each entry was measured, and--in cases where the egg survived--a score assigned by multiplying the cube root of the delivery package weight in grams, the square of the time in seconds, the square root of the target-impact distance plus 20 in inches, and the square root of the target final resting place distance plus 10 in inches. The lower the score the better.
"Anybody can win if you put a parachute on the egg," said contestant John Gower, 29, of Fairfax. "Most people made a very light package. Weight is held against you, but it's minimal, a cube root. My strategy was to take weight to the max, and stress speed and accuracy . . . with little bounce."
But the strategy failed, even though Gower MIRVed his entry--two eggs packed in popcorn in a coffee can suspended by rubber bands inside a triangular metal frame. One of his eggs survived, but his score was high.
The winner, with a score of 936.5338, was Christian Karl Oelsner, 22, a mechanical engineering student from Chile. Oelsner packed a 52-gram egg in axle grease inside a large frozen orange juice can, secured this inside a thick, flat rubber pad, and hung a fairly heavy piece of metal pipe from the bottom by a string.
This awkward, 683-gram package was 2.329 seconds in transit, impacting 10.75 inches from ground zero and turning over easy to reach a final resting place 2.5 inches from target. Oelsner scrambled over and unpacked the egg, holding it aloft in triumph. Then he threw it against a stone wall, proving it was uncooked.
"All right!" shouted someone in the audience. "Prospective employers take note!" Oelsner said he was pleased that the grease had "decelerated the egg very smoothly." He added, however, that, when he graduates, "it's very uncertain if I can get a job."
In second place, with a score of 1,425.573, was Ali Akbar Vassetizadeh, 23, of Iran, who padded his egg with Styrofoam in a rocket-shaped, cardboard paper-towel tube with a balloon drag. Third, with a 1,507.098 score, was A. Jeyanathan, 23, of Malaysia, whose egg was in a paper-stuffed Dixie cup in a rubber boot with "Das Boot" printed on the outside.
The weather was a little on the cloudy side.