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Galileo was right

And physicists know how to have fun.

The annual Pumpkin Drop returned to Case Quad this fall after a one-year hiatus because of Covid. On a bright, brisk afternoon Nov. 1, hundreds of students paused to watch as pumpkins were dropped from the roof of Strosacker Auditorium and splattered on a tarp below. 

The Department of Physics stages the Halloween-season spectacle to recreate Galileo’s famed experiment of 1590, when he supposedly dropped brass weights from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to prove that the acceleration of a falling body is independent of mass. 

True to Galileo’s findings, the falling gourds of different sizes seemed to explode in sync. Students cheered. The sun beamed. The cider was free. 

“We do this because it really does show students that the laws of physics work and have real-world applications,” said Professor Corbin Covault, co-chair of the Department of Physics. 

Covault directed the proceedings in a pirate costume, claiming Galileo was a swashbuckler. 

“But really, we do this because it’s fun,” he said.

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