We’re running a membership drive this month – our goal is 150 new members – and as a part of it we’re including this blatant clickbait series… Besides, it’s a chance to tell some of the funny stories that come up during cloudy nights at the VATT!
The old astronomer tells the tale… “There were three of us heading up Mauna Kea, elevation about 15,000 feet, for an observing run. Dave was driving, I was giving directions, and in the back seat was Ed, going through our list of observation candidates. He kept all his notes in a metal briefcase, it looked like something a spy would take with him, which was sitting next to him in the back seat.
The road was still pretty rough in those days, driving took all your attention. And as the air got thinner, even paying attention took your attention. And then, at around the 10,000 feet level… POW!
It was a loud explosion, like a tire bursting. Immediately, Dave stopped the car, and he and I got out to see what had happened.
All the tires were fine. No marks anywhere on the car; we hadn’t hit anything we could see. So what caused that explosion?
From the back of the car, Ed sheepishly opened his briefcase. “I think that was me,” he admitted.
And he held up what used to be a large bag of potato chips. Clearly it had been packaged at sea level, but when it reached 10,000 feet… We figured the metal suitcase helped amplify the noise of the explosion.
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