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Author Topic: Drowning in Jello
WildaBeast
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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My sister told me this story yesterday and asked me to have you guys check it out.

Essentially, the story is that a wealthy man had his entire swimming pool filled with Jello. When he attempted to go for a swim in it, he drowned, because with the physical properties of Jello being what they are it's a rather difficult substance to swim in.

Yes, I am aware that this was part of the plot of a recent American Dad episode. When I told her that she said she heard the story at least a year ago, well before the episode aired.

I'd never heard the story before. Have any of you heard it before? Is this a common urban legend that I'm just clueless about? Did it, as unlikely as it seems, ever really happen?

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"Unseasonable is an odd word to begin with. It sounds like it's describing something that it's impossible to sprinkle pepper on." -- Nonny

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GenYus
Away in a Manager's Special


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As this is a FOAF story and a Google search doesn't turn up any news stories, I'd say Undetermined - Probably False".

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IIRC, it wasn't the shoe bomber's loud prayers that sparked the takedown by the other passengers; it was that he was trying to light his shoe on fire. Very, very different. Canuckistan

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Lil' Molly
Deck the Malls


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Well, here is the opinion of a Physics professor. He doesn't mention anything about drowning, only that it would get progressively harder to swim through depending on the viscosity of the Jello.

And kinda near the topic, These guys actually made a pool full of syrup & swam through it to test if you can swim faster in syrup or water.

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Canuckistan
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Essentially, the story is that a wealthy man had his entire swimming pool filled with Jello. When he attempted to go for a swim in it, he drowned, because with the physical properties of Jello being what they are it's a rather difficult substance to swim in.

Sounds like an initiation thread.

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lynnejanet
Happy Holly Days


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Brrr. In order for the jello to "set" properly, they would have had to lower the temperature in the pool enclosure quite a bit. That would have been a chilly swim. If they raised the temperature to comfort level, eventually, the jello would liquify.

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lynne"insert appropriate punny phrase here"janet

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Esprise Me
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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quote:
Originally posted by lynnejanet:
Brrr. In order for the jello to "set" properly, they would have had to lower the temperature in the pool enclosure quite a bit.

Not only that, they'd have to boil it first.
From the back of a Jell-O box:
1) Stir 2 cups boiling water into gelatin in medium bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved.
2) Stir in 2 cups of cold water.
3) Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. Makes 8 (1/2 cup) servings.
Can you imagine trying to do this on the scale of a pool deep enough to drown in?
I'm sure you could just sort of roll along the surface, as with quicksand.

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"If God wrote it, the grammar must be infallible. Perhaps it is we who are mistaken." -MapleLeaf

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Rough Rider
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I want to see the Myth Busters test this one.
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Wolfs Bane
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by Rough Rider:
I want to see the Myth Busters test this one.

That's what I was thinking Rough Rider lol

WB

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mgbdriver
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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I recall reading (many years ago) an interview with Alfred Hitchcock where he speculated on whether or not someone could be killed by diving into a swimming pool full of Jello.
Unfortunately, I cannot find that quote anywhere.

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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Lil'Molly Jolly Christmas:
Well, here is the opinion of a Physics professor. He doesn't mention anything about drowning, only that it would get progressively harder to swim through depending on the viscosity of the Jello.

And kinda near the topic, These guys actually made a pool full of syrup & swam through it to test if you can swim faster in syrup or water.

Since the guys in your second post found that it was just as easy to swim in syrup as in water, I don't think ordinary jello would be difficult to swim through either.

The physics prof's page didn't come up for me but my uneducated guess is that although jello's viscosity as measured by, say, the speed of a bubble, is much higher than syrup, once you pass your arm or leg (or body) through it, that viscosity breaks down immediately so it might feel a little weird and may take a little more effort, but you could swim through it without drowning as long as you didn't panic. (Just my guess.)

The viscosity of syrup is higher than water so a higher viscosity alone doesn't seem to make much difference.

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Rehcsif
We Three Blings


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On a somewhat related note, from my alma mater:

http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2003/08/26/swimming030826

A researcher in the U.S. has used varsity swimmers to see whether swimming in thick guck slows them down.

The curiosity-driven research tested theories of fluid mechanics.

Chemical engineering Prof. Ed Cussler of the University of Minnesota designed and paid for the study to find out what affects swimming speed more: propulsive force from swimmers' arms or drag from their bodies

-Tim

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Wizard of Yendor
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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If you actually dove in head frist from a diving board, and the jello was dense enough, you might find youself burried in jello and suddenly having a much harder time getting back up without the momentum of the dive behind you. Plus, it would probably be really disorienting.
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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Rehcsif, I think that's the same group in the second link posted by Lil'Molly. Excellent pictures, though!

Wizard, I think that might depend a lot on whether you float in jello, which is another interesting question. Divers don't get out easily because of the momentum of the dive but because they are bouyant. (My guess: you don't float very well because it's less dense than water.)

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Wizard of Yendor
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I guess I didn't explain what I was thinking clearly. By dense I meant thick/viscous not heavy. I would imagine jello weighs very close to the same as water. My point about momentum of the dive was that it would be easy to get into the hypothetical pool of very thick jello with that boost, but getting back out without that advantage might be harder. I think it's safe to assume you would float, except for one thing: Blueberries float too, don't they? Your boyancy couldn't probably overcome the thinkness of the jello, so you'd still have to work to get out.
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Finite Fourier Alchemy
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Ganzfeld:
The physics prof's page didn't come up for me but my uneducated guess is that although jello's viscosity as measured by, say, the speed of a bubble, is much higher than syrup, once you pass your arm or leg (or body) through it, that viscosity breaks down immediately so it might feel a little weird and may take a little more effort, but you could swim through it without drowning as long as you didn't panic. (Just my guess.)

The bubble test is (I think) a low-shear-rate viscosity test (shear rate would depend on the relative densities). Syrup is Newtonian, meaning viscosity is the same at any shear rate, so any viscosity test should give the same result.

Jello is tricky because it's viscoelastic (it's rubbery) and nonhomogeneous (swimming through it, you break the Jello into lots of chunks of countless sizes and shapes). The latter bit makes it outside the realm of any fluid theory I know. You'd need to experiment to see how Jello breaks apart as you swim through it.

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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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The first test to make is to see if the stuff floats in water. If it does, it's an indication that swimming may be difficult as it does not have enough density. How viscosity works for it is another question. I've seen people swimming in ice slurry (yeah, those winter bathers are crazy) with no problems, but I have no idea about what jello will behave like.

Btw, I saw a documentary about the Swedish petrol reserves, which are housed in giant underground reservoirs. They were using a rubber dingy to paddle across the petrol, and emphasized how important it was to wear a very good life jacket, as it is impossible to swim in petrol due to the low density. Oh, no smoking was allowed on the job...

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/Troberg

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Rehcsif
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by Ganzfeld:
Rehcsif, I think that's the same group in the second link posted by Lil'Molly. Excellent pictures, though!

Whoops missed that link. First time I've been spanked weeks before I posted... [fish]

-Tim

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