Trying to Defy the Laws of Physics in the Name of Science

Last week, fellow grad student Maggie and I were asked to do a seemingly impossible task:

The Challenge: Take all of this gear, pack it into 2 standard sized plastic crates, and make sure it weighs less than 100 lbs.

The Twist: You cannot leave anything behind.

Because we travel on a tiny plane to get to Palmyra Atoll, there are both weight and volume limits on the amount of gear we can bring with us. We also have a mountain of supplies that are crucial to getting our research done. So after all the ordering, organizing, and labeling was complete – we bravely stepped up to the plate.

Maggie and I chuckled, then sighed, and then set to work. I am a biologist, not a physicist! Unfortunately, I am pretty sure there was no way to shrink matter, so we ended up packing everything into THREE boxes and, all together, the gear weighs 180 lbs.

That is pretty close, right? ….