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Science & Environment

MIT's Breakthrough In Propulsion Of Intra-Intestinal Micro-Muscular Agglomerations


Two science students at MIT broke a world record last week. They shattered it, actually. Their achievement - well, it's not exactly going to get a Nobel. We'll let them explain. Amber VanHemel begins.

AMBER VANHEMEL: We started with just, like, a pack of $2 hot dogs. We didn't have any of the rules and didn't even cook them and just started throwing them and to see actually, how hard was it to throw a hot dog?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yep. There's a Guinness world record for that. Around 120 feet is how far classmate Phoebe Li lobbed a fully cooked hot dog to VanHemel, who caught it neatly into an open bun, a requirement for this odd record once held by an actual NFL quarterback. And though the feat may seem random, the pair made sure to test each step.

VANHEMEL: Phoebe perfected the throwing motion after probably hundreds of hot dogs.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That is the scientific method for you employed by two STEM students. But what does the perfect hot dog throw look like? - not far off from how you throw a softball, apparently. Li would know, since she played on the MIT varsity squad alongside VanHemel.

PHOEBE LI: We found the easiest way to throw the hot dog was to throw at end over end so that it would kind of just spin like a Ferris wheel towards Amber. And it was easier for her to catch, too, because it'd be spinning in one direction.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Another requirement for this strange record was the hot dog had to be cooked somehow.

VANHEMEL: Tried boiling some, microwaving some, pan-searing some, like a pork-filled, chicken or beef hot dogs and really getting, like, a spread of different variables to see which was the optimal to actually throw.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It ended up, if you really want to know, being a Costco jumbo sausage that earned them the title. And it might just help Li with her future plans.

LI: I think mostly, my parents just think it's really great to hold a world record. And they keep insisting to put this on my med school applications (laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Li and VanHemel expect to receive their official certificate from the Guinness organization in the next few months. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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