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300 comments

Bah. (4, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808554)


When I first read the summary, I thought these kids had designed some new interesting ceramic material that would prove to have many practical applications. After all, that's what the contest is for...

From TFA:
Contestants generally try to design mugs out of high-tech materials so they won't break.

But the New Mexico Tech team used a different tactic...making part of their mug expendable, to save the rest. In short, they cheated.

Now don't get me wrong...I'm all for thinking outside the box...after all, I'm the one whose egg drop [pitsco.com] design in high school incorporated a parachute, ensuring my egg could survive a drop from any altitude. I was the clear winner, because I too 'thought outside the box'.

Did I get a commendation for my cleverness? Did I get a write-up in USA Today?

No. I got an F, despite there being no rules whatsoever prohibiting parachutes (although I hear they wrote in that rule the following year).

These New Mexico Tech students 'thought outside the box', and in doing so, completely subverted the whole point of the competition. Using this strategy, they managed to net second place, and they get a newspaper article for it.

Again, bah.

Re:Bah. (1)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808596)

Well, if the underside section could be replaced, then it could have uses.

But how long for gravity to kick in? Nine feet in the contest, and 15 feet ability, are not useful for my coffee table or desk. If it could correct within 50cm, thus stopping the carpet from getting dirty, then it would be worthy.

Replace it from the start (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808766)

A substance doesn't need to break to absorb energy. Generally, objects are good at either holding their shape, absorbing energy, or transferring energy, though I may not have the right bases.

Re:Replace it from the start (1)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808923)

substance doesn't need to break to absorb energy.

That substance, in this case, is ceramic.

Re:Bah. (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808630)

Now don't get me wrong...I'm all for thinking outside the box...after all, I'm the one whose egg drop design in high school incorporated a parachute, ensuring my egg could survive a drop from any altitude. I was the clear winner, because I too 'thought outside the box'.

Did I get a commendation for my cleverness? Did I get a write-up in USA Today?

No. I got an F, despite there being no rules whatsoever prohibiting parachutes (although I hear they wrote in that rule the following year).


Yeah, and I'd be really good at chess if I could just make my horsey jump straight to the king right off the bat. Unfortunately for both of us, the point of the competition isn't to cheat the rules.

Re:Bah. (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808646)

Unfortunately for both of us, the point of the competition isn't to cheat the rules.

Read again. The rules didn't forbid parachutes.

Re:Bah. (1)

stx23 (14942) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808702)

Neither do the rules of chess.

Re:Bah. (3, Funny)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808711)

True, they don't. But then, a parachute attached to the pieces in chess doesn't make any sense.

Re:Bah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808748)

Pawn paratroopers! w00t!

Re:Bah. (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808888)

That sir is a brilliant comment.

BTW, I'll bet you could find a novelty set somewhere that has some (or even all) the pieces with parachutes attached.

No rule against nukes either (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808814)

The rules of chess say exactly what moves are allowed. No other moves can be made by either player. There's no rule in chess that says nuclear weapons can't be used, but that lack doesn't mean you can nuke your opponent. (In formal chess matches, I'm sure there are specific rules against assaulting the other players and the judges, but I'm only guessing here)

Competitions like this normally give a goal, and what's not allowed. Thus, people should be creative in how they accomplish the goal. Rather than disallowing a parachute (which would discourage creativity) the rules could be written to include flight time in a points structure, so that the team that gets the egg to the ground intact and the fastest wins. Alternatively a competion like this could be more chess-like by providing all the teams with the same materials, that way you can't buy your way to a win.

Re:No rule against nukes either (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808866)

Actually, since chess only lists the moves that ARE allowed, they don't need to have an explicit rule against nukes; it's not explicitely allowed thus forebidden.

Re:Bah. (2, Funny)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809002)

Neither do the rules of chess.

ObYoungOnes:
Vyv (trying to fix a video recorder): Yeah, but it doesn't say, "ensure the machine isn't full of washing-up liquid"!
Mike: Well it wouldn't, would it?! I mean, it doesn't say, "ensure you don't chop up your video machine with an axe, put all the bits in a plastic bag and bung em down the lavatory"!
Vyv (grabs video recorder): Doesn't it? Maybe that's where we're going wrong!

Re:Bah. (1)

Holi (250190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808726)

If he got an F then I am guessing there is some part of this story that he has omitted.

Re:Bah. (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808660)

Don't tell me that you're still sore at Kirk for the whole Kobayashi Maru thing, are you? I mean, he did cheat fair and sqaure. :-P

I think the reason why the judges liked this entry was because it was a practical engineering solution similar to what you'd see in the real world. While every engineer wishes that a magic material would come along to solve all their problems (and on rare occasions they do get that wish), most of the time an engineer is forced to make the type of tradeoff seen in the coffee cup. I seriously doubt this solution will be accepted more than once, though, so I expect that you're doubly screwed. Sorry.

Not a university :) (3, Interesting)

pavon (30274) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808673)

Using this strategy, they managed to net second place, and they get a newspaper article for it.

That is the administrations improved PR in work.

As a proud alumni, I'd like to point out, just because our adminstration hates it when we do so, that the name is New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and it is not a University :) It is not in the name, and historicaly, the term university, has been reserved for large schools that are divided into multiple colleges. We are a small engineering college and we like it that way. Bigger is not always better - stop trying to ruin the school with your illusions of grandure.

</rant>

Sorry for that. Several years ago the administration decided make increasing enrollment it's biggest goal, which came with talks of improving freshmen retention. Tech already accepts almost anyone who applies (a good thing), and about half drop out after before completing their junior year. While a couple classes seemed to be "weeding-out classes", most were reasonably challenging for those willing to learn. So there is naturally concern that standards will drop as a result of the administrations direction.

The practice of slapping the word Univerity into all the press releases started at the same time, and the two are linked in my mind, hence the rant.

Anyway, sounds like a fun competition, and best regards to the materials students that designed the project.

Re:Bah. (1)

Zwets (645911) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808688)

Yeah, contests should promote creative abuses of the rules, like the venerable IOCCC [ioccc.org].

Completely off-topic, just to satisfy my curiosity: what were some of the other entries in that egg contest? I've been looking at the rules, and about the only thing I can think of would be a parachute... what other ways are there to get an egg slowly from 15 feet up to the ground?

Re:Bah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808850)

In high school I made one out of about 10 straws that survived a 25 or so foot drop onto cement. If you picture the egg sitting with the fattest part down on a counter, imagine a tall pyramid of 4 straws around that. On the very top of that pyramid there were 4 straws that came out as cross peices to prevent it from falling directly on its side. At the bottom were a few peices of straws that reinforced the pyramid. The egg sat about an inch off the ground in a masking tape cradle. Basically my idea was to use the minimal amount of parts I could to get the egg to land fat side down, because they are very hard to break that way. It worked.

Re:Bah. (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808707)

But the New Mexico Tech team used a different tactic...making part of their mug expendable, to save the rest. In short, they cheated.

These New Mexico Tech students 'thought outside the box', and in doing so, completely subverted the whole point of the competition. Using this strategy, they managed to net second place, and they get a newspaper article for it.

I see. So any idea that maintains the spirit of the competition but violates the rules is cheating, is it? I say 'bah!' to that. As a graduate of this venerable college located in the middle of nowhere in NM, I can say I'm proud that they didn't let a little thing like the rules get in the way. It shows imagination can't be stifled by rigid thinking or a need to create conformity. They developed something that went beyond the limited scope of the arbitrary rules and should be commended for their ingenuity. But coffee isn't what I'd worry about -- they neede to build an indestructible beer stein!

Re:Bah. (1)

SSCGWLB (956147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808828)

As another Alumni of the 'university in Socorro' which is not a university (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology), I must concur. Much beer is wasted every day and this must be stopped!!!

Re:Bah. (1)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808760)

I got an F, despite there being no rules whatsoever prohibiting parachutes

The idea in both situations is to design something that can survive the impact -- not avoid the impact, which is what you did,
They came up with an innovative solution to the problem. You just avoided the problem altogether.

Most problems are best avoided. (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808887)

NASA does this all the time. Avoiding a problem is often way better than solving it. Prevention vs. Cure.

Would you rather avoid accidents while driving your car, or survive them? Suriving an accident often involves long term disability. Avoiding the accident in the first place is much better.

MOD PARENT -1 WHINY KARMA WHORE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808762)

I don't know what's worse. TMM's pathetic ego or the fact that his karma-whoring post will susseccfully be modded as "Interesting" or "Insightful" by assholes who don't want or know to use their mod points responsibly.

Re:Bah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809022)

So, in other words, you're still crying about an F you got in high school?

Honestly, who would want to keep a battered mug? Their mug is quite nice and will at least get you through the day- which is all coffee drinkers around the world really care about.

Re:Bah. (1)

firl (907479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809029)

ya, for my egg drop, they threw us an egg from a distance and we had to catch it. I had a garbage bag, and a huge ammount of shipping bubbles, I didn't lose, but I lost one of the eggs in the abyss known as my garbage bag.

Just like Toast (2, Funny)

Lev13than (581686) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808569)

A team of undergraduates at the university in Socorro designed a ceramic mug that can fall 15 feet onto concrete pavement and still hold a full cup of java afterward without leaking.

The secret is to butter the bottom of the mug, thus ensuring that it always lands the right way up.

Re:Just like Toast (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808700)

...then attach a cat's feet to the buttered side, thus creating a gravitational paradox. (Cat must land on its feet, but the butter must land down.) The result is an antigravity cup that is incapable of falling. Just imagine, a coffee cup that hangs in midair! Just like the Jetsons!

Boo (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808718)

I just RTFA, and your snarky "butter the bottom" comment is closer to the truth than you'd expect.
Tech's cup "kind of looks like a bomb," Hirschfeld said. "It's rounded (at the bottom) and the bomb part breaks so the rest can survive."
..
Adding to the difficulty, the contest requires that mugs be dropped on their sides. But the sacrificial bomb -- which weighs more than the mug on top -- and gravity take care of that, Price said.
They didn't use any fancy ceramics, instead they gamed their design.
Clever, but not world changing.

New Ceramic (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808572)

Would this new 'ceramic' be called plastic and be made of polymers ?

Next Project: A Ballmer-Proof Chair (1, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808577)

The NewMexTech students are purportedly working on a new indestructable chair.
It will have the ability to absorb impacts from dropping, kicking or throwing due to sudden fits of rage and violent outbursts of anger. [sys-con.com]

Re:Next Project: A Ballmer-Proof Chair (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808742)

Dick Cheney is probably going to shoot you if you keep using that "chair throwing" joke.

I mean, that old guy doesn't even read Slashdot and he's heard it a million times

Re:Next Project: A Ballmer-Proof Chair (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808945)

Dick Cheney is probably going to shoot you if you keep using that "chair throwing" joke.

I wish he would shoot me, then I could come back and apologize to him and his family for all the problems I had caused.

Just when I thought Zonk stories were lame.. (-1)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808588)

Taco himself scrapes the bottom of the story-barrel.

Back on topic though; considering the fact that the 'fragile' nature of ceramic has always been an issue, this research should open up some great possibilites in other fields that depend on ceramics.

Re:Just when I thought Zonk stories were lame.. (1)

BecomingLumberg (949374) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808662)

On this one, I think CmdrTaco actually struck the bottom quite vigorously. Fortunatly, the barrel was saved from destruction due to being made out of the ultra-strong ceramic material the contest winners used on their coffee mug.

Does General Taco know about this? And what of pour Mrs. Taco. I am sure they would be quite disappointed if they knew their son was aspiring to mediocrity.

Obligitory futurama quote (1)

tont0r (868535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808592)

GREAT! change it to be eight feet tall and put lasers on it! We can make a fortune on theintergalactic arms market!

Not if you... (2, Funny)

tanverenzo (849273) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808593)

Thank god I can sleep easy at night ;) Not if you drink that cup of Java :-P

Re:Not if you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808808)

Hah! I've been immune to caffeine for years now - ever since grad school. Coffee has little to no effect on me, aside from the jitters, and the withdrawal headaches.

excuse me, you dropped your coffee (1)

ExE122 (954104) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808600)

We're still a long way away from the Futurama tea cup that reassembles itself after it breaks =).

Its still a neat idea, sort of a "crumple zone" for a coffee mug. What I don't understand is how it still holds liquid after the crash. Are we assuming it lands upright?

Re:excuse me, you dropped your coffee (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808803)

The "crumple zone" is heavier than the mug, so yes, it will always land upright.

Am I the only one who took physics? (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809023)

I keep reading these comments about how the bottom is "heavier" than the top, so it'll fall faster. The secret is that it is denser, so it's less affected by air resistance than the top, thus leading to its, well, leading position during the fall.

Re:excuse me, you dropped your coffee (1)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808995)

Not quite automatic reassembly, but I've already got a mug which would pass the test. Indestructible is an understatement.

It was made by Hornsea Pottery, and it was given to me around twenty years ago. It has a picture of a monkey on either side. It's a fairly straight-sided white cylinder with perhaps a slight bluish tint to it, and a square-ish handle. It has a very slight chip or imperfection in the rim, which I suspect it probably acquired when that Mars-sized planetoid crashed into the Earth some billions of years ago in the collision which created the Moon.

It's been dropped on to hard, tiled floors. As a child, I ran with it through a doorway, and it hit the wall surrounding the door - gouging a big chunk of very solid plaster out in the process. (Our house was built from World War 2 bunker surplus materials, and is the second strongest thing known to mankind. Putting a nail into the wall? Good luck.) The mug is truly invincible. I'd investigate further, but I'm concerned for the safety of whatever it might hit - this planet was not built to contend with rigid, Newtonian solids incapable of deformation or damage.

I hear Hornsea Pottery went bust a few years ago. Not bloody surprised...

Crumple Zones & the Lazy Man Maneuver (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808603)

Like the article says, the issue of dropping a mug to save coffee is entirely in the transfer of kinetic energy to the right places.

As the mug falls, it gathers velocity towards the ground (thank you, gravity) and upon impact it stops when it meets the resistance of cement. This resistance means that the prior amount of kinetic energy must be absorbed at some point in the mug or absorbed by the concrete (not too feasible).

I'm going to say that I'm not accounting for everything here ... yes, there's entropy and blah blah blah going on but this is a cut and dried version of what you should focus on.

The strategy behind their solution is that they used a "crumple point" at the base of the mug. What they refer to as "the bomb" is really just a crushable base that sufficiently absorbs the energy. Therefore, the energy does not transfer to the coffee (which would thus splash it everywhere). This is a lot like the crumple points on modern car frames. My car's frame has points at which, if I run into something, the energy will be absorbed in the event of extreme energy transfer. This stops the energy from transferring to my body and causing me to splash everywhere. Let me tell you, you do not want to splash everywhere; it's quite messy and rather painful. As a car designer, you'd like to know precisely where energy will be transferred to in the event of an accident so you create crumple zones. If a car is in a sufficient collision, often times it will be necessary to have the vehicle "pulled" which means spending a lot of money to have some goof put it in a very expensive machine that pulls on the frame until everything is back to near perfect specs and calibration.

I, on the other hand, prefer loading it onto a flatbed trailer, attaching a hand winch to both axles and laying underneath it and winching until your friend tells you that the doors can open and they no longer touch the front quarter panels. Alignment? Oh, that's just for rich people and inspectors.

Now, what I don't like about this mug design is that it seems to be a one shot deal for the mug. Yes, you've saved your coffee but your mug is shot.

I'm reminded of when I used to work in a restaurant and ceramic plates and glass would occasionally drop by mistake from my hands and the hands of coworkers. Now, as time went on, I noticed that glass objects like drinking glasses would have one bounce. I do not know why but they would have one bounce and then SMASH ... a million pieces. Ceramic plates were just a spider web on impact (quickly absorbing energy) but the glass seemed to almost always get one bounce.

Knowing this, if I saw an empty glass falling, I knew I had one bounce to try and save it but the bounces weren't always too high. Years of hacky sack training on sipas finally became useful. Now, there is a move I was taught that we called a "lazy man" that involved kicking the foot out but actually using the ankle movement to kick the bag up into the air. There were a few times when a glass dropped and after the first bounced I lazy manned it up and caught it and I was a god for 10 minutes at least in the back of the kitchen. Sure, there were times when it just looked like I was booting a glass into the wall but it was worth it. I always wondered if those saved glasses would ever get another bounce if they dropped again.

Re:Crumple Zones & the Lazy Man Maneuver (3, Informative)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808696)

Knowing this, if I saw an empty glass falling, I knew I had one bounce to try and save it but the bounces weren't always too high. Years of hacky sack training on sipas finally became useful. Now, there is a move I was taught that we called a "lazy man" that involved kicking the foot out but actually using the ankle movement to kick the bag up into the air. There were a few times when a glass dropped and after the first bounced I lazy manned it up and caught it and I was a god for 10 minutes at least in the back of the kitchen. Sure, there were times when it just looked like I was booting a glass into the wall but it was worth it. I always wondered if those saved glasses would ever get another bounce if they dropped again.

I'm going to venture a guess here. The bottom of the glass is the heaviest and strongest part, especially on restaurant glasses made for heavy use and frequent washing. It stands to reason that the glass would turn so that the bottom hit the ground first. The bottom strikes the ground unevenly, recoils, and the glass is thrown into a spin. When it strikes the ground again, it's with the much more fragile side of the glass.

Re:Crumple Zones & the Lazy Man Maneuver (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808946)

The glass is always greener on the other side.

Re:Crumple Zones & the Lazy Man Maneuver (1)

wrfelts (950027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808971)

Often, this would be the case. There is also the case of resonance caused by the initial impact, making the glass act much more like a crystaline solid on second impact than its more liquid state implied by its amorphous solid nature. The power that an object's resonance has over the object can never be taken for granted.

Mmmm, shards (1)

borkus (179118) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808615)

As pointed out in the article, the mug "breaks"...at least part of it does. However, the coffee doesn't spill. I'm not sure how likely I would be to finish my coffee in a mug that has bits of broken ceramic hanging off of it (though some mornings, it's a real possiblity). Beer on the other hand...well, the very idea of split beer...I ... just...can't... talk about it.

Coffee and beer drinkers aside, I wonder if a design that that could be used to transport hazardous or toxic liquids.

Re:Mmmm, shards (1)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808889)

However, the coffee doesn't spill.
Actually, the article says the contest rules required the mug to be dropped on its side. While this mug is self-righting, the starting position would sort of preclude any coffee to begin with. ...I wonder if a design that that could be used to transport hazardous or toxic liquids.
The design has one function -- to protect from a drop. It does nothing for impacts from any other direction. Smack it hard enough and it would shatter. I doubt that would be very useful for transporting toxic materials.

  -Charles

I care more about heat conductivity (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808623)

The problem with ceramic mugs is not that they are breakable, it is that you can't have a cup of coffee sit in them more than 10 minutes before it is nearly ice cold.

Make me a mug that looks like a nice ceramic, but has the termal insulation value of my vaccum sealed travel mug.

Re:I care more about heat conductivity (2, Insightful)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808686)

That depends on two things:
  • Part of the problem is that they absorb heat. If you pre-heat the mug (rinse it with hot water) your coffee will stay warm longer.
  • Try getting a mug made from shuttle tile material....

Time tested coffee mug (2, Funny)

Maurader (888326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808633)

I think I'll stick my ole reliable Pessimist's Mug to cheer me up in the morning. If I drop it, it was not meant to be.

Aaaaand (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808634)

Still no cure for cancer :)

wow 2 of 20... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808638)

they got second out of twenty? who got first?

Extreme (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808648)

I have an Extreme Gulp from 7-11.

It's 9.5 inches tall, 5.5 inches in diameter and practically indestructable. I have no reservations about chucking it 15 feet up into the air.

It'll hold 52 ounces, but can be modded [virtualfreshair.com] to hold 38% more.

In 1967 (The Graduate) the future was plastics.
Which is the Next Big Thing? Ceramics or nano-stuff?

Concrete feet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808661)

Concrete feet ? I thought this is an ancient tradition in the Chicago area.

what I really want to know (1)

slashdotnickname (882178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808670)

who's drinking coffee 15 feet in the air?

Re:what I really want to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808832)

Roofers, thats who.

My dad was a roofer for 30 years. He fell from 30 feet once, and said the last thing he remembered was his favorite coffe cup hitting the ground before him, he said he was actually worrying if his coffee cup would be ok, as he sped torward earth. He woke up with two broken legs, a concussion, and a few cracked ribs.

The cofee cup, even though it landed on asphalt pavement, ended up being undamaged. It was one of those nautical cups with the wide base and rubber bottom. It was ceramic, but had plastic and metal parts around the ceramic, not to mention the rubber was a good shock absorber. Anyways, that was back in 1989. So it appears coffee cup technology hasn't really progressed much since then.

yay! Socorro! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808683)

I'd like to point out that this is really old news.. like a week or two at this point, shame on Slashdot for being so slow - On the other hand, I'm rather happy to see my mother, Dr. Hirschfeld, being quoted in the national news.

Dr. Hirschfeld has had a long history of having very inovative classes for her engineers... like the Water balloon catapults at Virginia Tech.. that was cool-- of course Slashdot didn't exist then.. but whatever.

Her real claim to fame is low thermal expansion cermamics -- stuff that doesn't change size with a change in temperature - seemingly simple, but very very important.

Do you like your porsche ceramic coated headers? and how well they perform? Well.. thank her, too bad Virginia Tech - those bastards, never paid her the money she was due, but then again.. that's another story entirely..

Technology advances (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808684)

Well, maybe we have not got the hydrogen fusion yet. And also some diseases are far from being overcome.
Also the fossil fuels problem still needs some more efforts.
For sure mugs technology is getting more and more advanced thanks to all those smart minds!

Is it stain resistant? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808713)

The big question is: Is it stain resistant. I mean the sort of stain from having a half cup of coffee sit in it for hours at a time, only to be filled up again and repeat for a few months between cleanings. If so, sign me up!

Misleading blurb (1)

MORB (793798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808721)

"Next time a ceramic mug falls on the ground, you won't have to buy a new coffee"

Here I was hoping that they had found a way to prevent the coffee to be spilled when dropping the mug.

Dropping a mug 15 meters on concrete is not part of my coffee cup usage patterns anyway.

Twice? (1)

tulmad (25666) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808727)

So what happens if you drop it a second time? You've already broken the part that saves it from the fall (the bomb section). Now that that's gone, you've got nothing protecting the mug from shattering on a second fall.

Re:Twice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808773)

It would be better if they made the bomb section from another material that doesn't break ( plastic or metal ) .

Re:Twice? (1)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808926)

I thought the same thing, it will only work once. I assumed "Indestructible" meant always and not once. That would have made a very dull first edition Superman comic.

it will never sell (1)

Susceptor (559115) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808741)

who in their right mind would sell a cup that could last? Consumerism is about...well...comsuming, and if stuff stopped breaking you woulden't have much insentive to consume now would you? It's a cool thing, but I doubt it will ever see the light of day.

In the car (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808761)

I doubt that it will do any good in my car, which is the only place I'm likely to drop a cup of coffee.

Weighing the Merits (1)

daniel_mcl (77919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808764)

On the one hand, it sounds like this mug would probably break if dropped from waist height, since there wouldn't be time for it to right itself. Also, even if it could, it would only work once, since the "Holy Hand Grenade" portion at the bottom would disappear. So this design is, in practice, completely worthless.

On the other hand, I have to appreciate the creation of a contest entry designed to satisfy the verbatim rules of the contest, as my buddy and I are responsible for at least a page of prohibitions in the Botball [botball.org] rules (although I hear some of the things we did are once again legal), so I can't really say I don't appreciate entries like this.

Back on the first hand, it seems ridiculous that the second-place team gets a full-page article which only passingly mentions the first place team and doesn't describe the properties of their entry or how high it was able to survive falling from. If I was on the UMR team, I'd be pretty upset right now.

(And no, I'm not a UMR student/alum)

Pardon me... (1)

thesnarky1 (846799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808810)

But this is retarded.

Did the kids come up with a new, unbreakable ceramic? No.

Did they come up with something that can be used more then once? No

Did they come up with something that would retain its coffee if knocked off a table? No

When i read the summary I thought: A coffee mug that I can drop whenever, from whereeer, and it'll keep its coffee.

This article is nothing like the summary makes it sound like. These cups can be used a grand total of one time (after which you need a whole new crumple zone), and would hold coffee if dropped from straight up and down. However, if it landed at a tilt, I'm fairly certain it would spill everything. Who cares about saving the $0.50 worth of cheap coffee if you have to go buy another huge mug to hold it?

Better solution for those of you who continually drop your coffee. It's called a "Travel Mug", and is already designed NOT to spill upon drop, AND can be reused after said drop!

Ok, so yes, they solved that little competition. But if I won the "make a coffee mug out of used condoms that won't break if hurled at a freshman's head from 15 feet up" award, is that news?

good to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808819)

good to the last drop

Ode to a non-breakable mug (1)

HappyUserPerson (954699) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808831)

I once had a cup that won't break
To make it, engineering it did take
I made it to be cool,
But now I feel like a fool
Because I dropped my cup in a lake!

Piping hot coffee
Sealed in a ceramic mug,
Indestructible

That's just great (1)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808856)

From the look of those things, you'd have to pre-heat them for about 10 minutes before you poured your coffee into them. That is, of course, if your arms are strong enough to lift the damned things !

Next project improved concrete (1)

baomike (143457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808863)

The students will next tackle the problem of fomulating a concrete that will withstand the inpact of the improved mug.

Great news!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808869)

I'll need something to drink after my 15 foot fall while waiting for the ambulance to show up.

What about kinetic energy? (1)

zlogic (892404) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808871)

If you drop the cup with coffee, while in mid-air it's basically two objects: the cup and the coffee. When the cup starts landing (and decceleration because of the "bomb" breaking up), it's like if the cup was falling slowly, and the coffee was falling faster, which can be translated to a completely still cup and the falling coffee. Now, if you drop liquid into a cup from some height, it will spill. The slower decceleration only reduces the speed of the coffee relative to the cup.
Also, what about the cup falling on one side because the bomb breaks up better at that side?
It would be better if they used a car-suspension scheme: not-too-fast decceleration when landing and slowly returning to normal state with a spring.

Huh? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808911)

"Next time a ceramic mug falls on the ground, you won't have to buy a new coffee: ..."

so what you're saying is, this new mug is spill-proof?

What about first place? (1)

sulam (817303) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808972)

So, why don't we hear about the folks who won first place? How much do you want to bet that they used some super high tech ceramic that simply doesn't break when dropped from 9'? Of course, that wouldn't be nearly as 'interesting' as that other monstrosity...

They didn't win.... (1)

grqb (410789) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808987)

The New Mexico Tech team didn't even win, they came in 2nd. University of Missouri-Rolla won.
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