Watermelon drop falls short of UCSD record

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WATERMELON DROPSAN DIEGO — The watermelon dropped from the seventh floor of a UC San Diego building Friday fell short of breaking the 40-year-old record for the farthest debris splatter.

The school’s “Watermelon Queen” raced up to the seventh floor of Urey Hall and pushed the gourd over the side at noon in an attempt to break the record of 167 feet, 4 inches, set in 1974. However, UC San Diego officials said debris covered just 49 1/2 feet.

The drops — the campus’ oldest tradition — began in 1965 when a physics professor asked his class for the terminal velocity of a watermelon dropped from such a height, and how far pieces of the fruit would be scattered.

It turned out that the terminal velocity — the speed at which a falling object is no longer accelerating — was about 112 mph. The splatter that first year spread 91 feet.