Frontiers of Science: John Jay

Written by

Full disclosure: Your correspondent, Carolyn Ruvkun, lives on John Jay 11. Though she did not participate in the project described below, she is inclined to defend her floor mates and their shenanigans.

On Sunday afternoon, a few badass residents of John Jay decided to construct a string-and-cup telephone between rooms on opposites sides of the floor. Why? “Why not?” answers one of the masterminds, “I guess we did it to prove to ourselves we could.” The project leaders wrapped a few yards of string around a cup and taped pennies securely inside it. This added weight gave the cup momentum to swing through the air. The dynamic duo enlisted eager floor residents along the inside of the hallway to help out. Rather than swing the cup haphazardly to the desired room, they methodically guided the cup to its final destination through neighboring windows. A few Ruggles residents even gathered to cheer on the enthusiastic freshmen.

“We chose to do something so insignificant,” admits one of the participants, “there’s really no point except that we wanted to finish it.” Another coordinator credits his “seven-year-old tendencies, general lack of maturity and fondness for large scale projects.”

Does this makeshift telephone device really work? Bwog asked physics professor John Parsons. Here’s what he had to say: “When the first person speaks into the cup at their end, the sound waves from their voice travel through the air and cause the bottom of the cup to vibrate back and forth, matching the air vibrations corresponding to the sound waves. For a typical human voice, the frequency of the vibrations is in the range of 100-300 vibrations/second. If the string is held taut, then the vibrating bottom of the cup pulls back and forth on the string, transmitting the vibration along the string from one end to the other. At the other end of the string, this vibration of the string causes the bottom of the second cup to vibrate, thereby creating sound waves in the second cup, such that the person listening there ‘hears’ the voice of the person at the other end.” In short, yes, the string and cup telephone works.

And to those who still doubt whether this is a productive use of time, think back to when you watched those whippersnappers from Disney Channel and ZOOM do all those awesome science projects. We know you always wanted to try them too, so props to the kids of John Jay for realizing childhood dreams.

Photos by Elyse DeWitt

Tags: , , , , , , ,


  1. Former JJ11 Resident  

    Kudos on keeping the JJ11 tradition of badass-ery alive!

  2. JJ11 resident  

    I'm going to miss this floor and all its shenanigans next semester.

    also reCAPTCHA = "or safety"

    coincidence? I THINK NOT!

  3. resident of JJ11  

    and this is why i love you guys!! <3

  4. JJ13 1996/7

    They could have walked this across the ledge on JJ13.

    ReCAPTCHA = hank abridge
    hank was our RA
    the ledge on 13 is a bridge

  5. bill nye

    cute but certainly not BADASS

  6. I heard  

    it was actually JJ13 that made this

  7. jj12  

    the pictures clearly show that this is indeed jj11--the white stone strip above the windows seen in the first two pictures is in between jj11 and jj12.

  8. at least for me  

    zoom was on PBS, not on Disney Channel

  9. Anonymous  

    instant A's in Frontiers for the lot of them.

  10. Anonymous  

    um, I'm on jj ten and your string is annoying as hell - it keeps bobbing up and down right in the middle of my window. i've been nice enough to resist cutting it but please remove it. thank you.

  11. Oh snap  

    This is TOO BADASS. And kid on JJ ten: Grow up and learn to have fun! I doubt you are looking out your window all day.

  12. teamwork!  

    JJ11 has the greatest RA of all time. Also, excellent teamwork!!

  13. uninformed JJ11 resident  

    Haha, I was trying to figure out what that was this morning as I was brushing my teeth!

  14. HAAS Biznasty

    Those pictures are awesome

  15. to jj10er  

    if you cut my string i will cut your jugular and watch you bleed all over john jay

  16. A. Bell

    The idea intrigues me, but the impossible angles of those photographs....astounding!

  17. Anonymous  

    I wish I had the time and the energy and the motivation to do something fun but as pointless as this... Dear life, what happened to being young and whimsical? Why is it that stuff like UWriting makes me prematurely gray and stressed? Do I just care too much about the wrong things?

  18. If UWP  

    makes you prematurely gray and stressed then you're in for a brutal 4 years.

  19. A. Bell

    AnonymousPosted from campus · 21 April 2010 at 1:37 AM · Reply · Track

    How are they impossible? They were clearly taken from inside people’s rooms on the ends of a John Jay floor

    Watson, come here, I need you!

  20. HAAS Biznasty

    I just ran those photos through a photo-smart C++ program I just coded. It turns out, they're not really photographs at all...

    Some genius must have spliced together images using some digital wizardy similar to, but far more complex, than photoshop Xl professional.

    The readings are off the charts. Those photos must be doctored... only explaination for their mastery.

  21. Hmmmmm.....

    Obviously new laser plasma imaging, digitally pioneered for black ops in Afghanistan. Useful in video, photography and other top secret imaging applications. In this instance, the technician has created the illusion of hovering in space. I am sure there are much better uses for it than what the photographer has used it for here.

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.