Silly String

How much silly string is in a can? Lots. The proud label exclaims: over 400 feet of string! Instant party!

I vividly recall being disappointed on past occasions by the sparse amount of string in one of these $5.60 cans of instant party. Today, these bold claims would be put to the test. Brooke was up visiting Mark on April 23rd, so she was our designated sprayer. To best measure the string, I had her run along a long concrete wall, spraying as she ran.

I was hoping to get a straight line of string on the wall, which would be easier to measure than the usual silly-string cluster-blob of goo. Brooke did a great job. She made it all the way down the wall and halfway back before the can ran out of whatever stringredients are inside those slim cans. The string stuck nicely to the wall, but it wasn't in a neat little line. It came out really fast, which is good for partying, but not good for measuring.

It was a crinkley green web that backtracked onto itself over and over again. It was especially glodgey where Brooke had made the turn back up the wall.

There was nothing we could do but measure the line.

The line was 269 feet long, and there was 3 feet, 4 inches left hanging from the can's nozzle. I sampled 2 nine-inch sections along the wall, and found that each contained about 5 feet of over-lapping string (58 inches and 51 inches). I divided the 269 feet into 358 9" sections, averaged the actual string sample at 54.5" per section, multiplied to get 1629 feet on the wall, and added the hanging string to get a total: 1,632 feet of string. That is about a third of a mile!

The label was way off. Although technically, it does state "over 400 feet", it is obvious that real measurements were never taken. As for the "instant party", I don't think any length of silly string can take that title from the original party favor: Alcohol.

Last updated May, 1999

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