The producers of PBS’s best science show, NOVA, have posted an excellent gallery of online experiments: Skydive from 100,000 feet. Replicate Shackleton’s 800-mile open-boat journey from the South Shetland Islands to South Georgia. Tweak the variables in a steroid, a rice paddy, or a rocket. Perform a virtual heart transplant. You may get so caught up you never escape.
Our favorite experiment involves Bill Goldfinch — a British prisoner in a Nazi POW camp who looked out the window, saw snowflakes rising, and had an epiphany: Could he glide to freedom on the same updraft? Together with another prisoner, he constructed a false wall, then built a handmade, two-passenger glider behind it. They were almost finished when the war ended — but decades later, some of Goldfinch’s fellow POW-camp alums used his design to build and launch another glider, one that actually flew. Here you can test-fly a virtual version — and at far less risk of crash or capture than Goldfinch might have faced.
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