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Watermelon drop falls short of UCSD record

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LA JOLLA, Calif. — UC San Diego students took a break from finals Friday to enjoy a whimsical end-of-the-school-year tradition, the drop of a watermelon from the top of a classroom building to see how far it splatters.

The event started in 1965 when physics professor Bob Swanson asked on an exam what would be the terminal velocity of a watermelon dropped from the seventh floor of Urey Hall at Revelle College and how far would it splatter? In their first test, the melon was traveling at 112 miles per hour when it hit the ground, and pieces of it spread out 91 feet.

The record splatter was set nine years later at 167 feet, 4 inches.

This year’s melon spread was 103 feet, 3 inches, according to UCSD.

The event, in which cake and watermelon was served, also honored Liora Kian Gutierrez, the retiring assistant dean of student affairs at Revelle College. The 1984 UCSD graduate is retiring at the end of this month after 35 years of service.

UCSD is divided into six colleges, one of them named for Roger Revelle, the late director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who helped bring a University of California campus to La Jolla.