University of Leicester Physics students disprove Roald Dahl peach calculation
Four students, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, have calculated that it would take 2,425,907 seagulls, rather than the 501 described in Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, to airlift the giant peach across the Atlantic Ocean.
The Leicester Mercury ran a story on the work over the Christmas break, and has appeared in several publications and websites since.
The students used the famous novel from the 1960s and Henry Selick’s 1996 film adaptation to determine the buoyancy of the giant peach. The physics of aircraft was later applied to calculate the number of seagulls it would have taken for the giant peach to be lifted.
The research was conducted by Emily Jane Watkinson, Maria-Theresia Walach, Daniel Staab and Zach Rogerson and published in the Journal of Physics Special Topics. The project allowed the students to apply real principles of Physics to an imaginative topic and gain experience writing professional research articles that are of publishing standard.