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No. 8: Fall 1979

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Chicken-plucking by tornados

In the early 1840s, Professor Loomis of Western Reserve College stuffed dead chickens into an eight pounder and fired the cannon vertically. Object: to see if high velocities would deplume the chickens. It seems that Loomis didn't know whether to believe all those stories about tornados tearing the feathers off chickens. Unfortunately, his experiments were inconclusive because the cannon disgorged clouds of feathers plus well-shredded chickens. He recommended that other scientists try lower muzzle velocities!

Since those more innocent days, science has accumulated many eye-witness accounts of this incredible phenomenon, including actual photographs that do not appear to have been tampered with in the darkroom. There can no longer be any reasonable doubt, tornados do deplume chickens.

(Galway, Joseph G., and Schaefer, Joseph T.; "Fowl Play," Weatherwise, 32:116, 1979.)

From Science Frontiers #8, Fall 1979. 1979-2000 William R. Corliss