2.5 million seagulls needed to hoist Dahl's giant peach

January 8, 2013
A girl feeds some seagulls in Cuxhaven, northwestern Germany, on December 23, 2012. Physics students at Britain's University of Leicester say 2.5 million seagulls would have been needed to fly the over-sized fruit in Roald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach" across the Atlantic.

Physicists have taken a close look at Roald Dahl's children's book, "James and the Giant Peach," in which a flock of gulls fly an outsize fruit and its occupants across the Atlantic.

In Dahl's tale, it took 501 gulls to haul the peach to New York from the mid-Atlantic, where it had drifted with a lad and his magical chums onboard.

But students at Britain's University of Leicester say the real number would be close to two and a half million birds.

In a tongue-in-cheek study in the Journal of Physics Special Topics, four students calculated the force lift required to pick up a peach of 1.025 tonnes and a radius of six metres (19.5 feet).

"Although James could have successfully sailed his peach in the manner described by Roald Dahl, for a peach of the dimensions calculated, it would not be possible to fly such a heavy object with the assistance of such a diminutive number of birds," says their "paper."

"He would have to harness 2,425,907 in order to fly to America."

The authors add a touch of scientific caution, though.

"Whether the and Mrs. Spider could have managed this is unknown," they say, referring to the two companions who lure the gulls into lifting the peach.

Explore further: Clemson University peach specialist unveils CaroTiger, something to roar about

Related Stories

Tall fescue helps protect peach trees from nematodes

November 29, 2011

Planting tall fescue grass as a ground cover in peach orchards helps protect peach trees from nematodes that attack tree roots, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists.

Recommended for you

Electron highway inside crystal

December 8, 2016

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their ...

Researchers improve qubit lifetime for quantum computers

December 8, 2016

An international team of scientists has succeeded in making further improvements to the lifetime of superconducting quantum circuits. An important prerequisite for the realization of high-performance quantum computers is ...

A nano-roundabout for light

December 8, 2016

Just like in normal road traffic, crossings are indispensable in optical signal processing. In order to avoid collisions, a clear traffic rule is required. A new method has now been developed at TU Wien to provide such a ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rkolter
not rated yet Jan 15, 2013
This made me laugh. :) It also made me think of unlaiden swollows and coconuts.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.