Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: Now That Would Be a Great Pumpkin (for the Week of Oct. 12, 2008)

October 16, 2008

Q. Dear Twig: What if there were flying pumpkins?

 

A. Wobbity, wobbity. Um, yes, well, if there were, you'd have to keep looking up all the time so you wouldn't get klonked in the head by one. But: As far as I know, for better or worse, there are no flying pumpkins.

Reason being, pumpkins don't have wings. They also don't have propellers. Nor Rolls Royce vectored-thrust turbofan engines, as used on the AV-8A Harrier vertical/short takeoff and landing aircraft. A pumpkin with vertical/short takeoff and landing capabilities would be a powerful pumpkin. And hard to carve.

The Great Pumpkin flies but isn't real. He's in that Charlie Brown Halloween special. He "flies through the air to deliver toys to all the good little children in the world," say Linus and Wikipedia. "(He) is likely to pass by anyone who doubts his existence." Which means no Nintendo DS for me, boo!

Birds have wings. So do bats and most insects. Seeds with wings are called samaras. But pumpkins and their seeds aren't samaras.

The wind beneath your pumpkin,

Twig

P.S. Examples of samaras are those spinning "whirligigs" that come down from maple trees.

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Notes:

To find out more, try the Ohio State University Extension fact sheets "Growing Squash and Pumpkins in the Home Garden," http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1620.html, and "Growing Giant Pumpkins in the Home Garden" (but not flying ones), http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1646.html; Jane's All the World's Aircraft 2007-2008; It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966); and "Blowing in the Wind: Seeds & Fruit Dispersed by the Wind," http://waynesword.palomar.edu/plfeb99.htm.

Webster's New World College Dictionary gives two ways to say "samara": "SAM-er-uh" and "suh-MAR-uh."

About This:

"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," published by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences — specifically, by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the College — is a weekly feature for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. It's written at, to and for a 4th-grade reading level.

For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, knebusch.1@osu.edu, (330) 263-3776.

Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.

 

Author(s): 
Kurt Knebusch