Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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The best table in the house

Dining in style
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High in the sky over Colorado is a helicopter, way out of the range of sight. It is dwarfed by its cargo, a two hundred metre high concave perspex disc that is suspended beneath it like an enormous contact lens. A rope attached to the lowest point of the disc is being winched into the helicopter, it goes taught and then begins to lift the dish, rotating it from vertical to horizontal. Because it is slightly convex the dish eventually settles level like a huge glass cereal bowl in the sky.

Out of the helicopter emerges a dining table on the end of another rope and as it descends six chairs appear one after the other, attached to the rope at intervals. When the furniture has all landed on the perspex floor, a man in a waiter’s uniform rappels down the rope and starts untying and arranging the furniture. By the time he has finished arranging, the rope has returned with a large wicker hamper from which he takes a table cloth, six place settings, a candelabra, a tureen of spinach and nutmeg soup, a roast leg of lamb, a dish of roast potatoes, onions and parsnips, a dish of garden peas, a basket of bread, a dish of butter and three bottles of Châteauneuf du Pape. When the table is set he is winched back up and the rope is dropped once more.

Dressed in black tie I rappel down the rope followed by five of my close friends and we take our places at the table. The wine is poured and as we toast our journey the perspex dish is finally detached from the helicopter, dropping toward the ground. Fortunately as the dish has such a huge surface area to mass ratio, it has an extremely low terminal velocity and will descend at no more than 1m/s. The hundred metre radius also keeps the wind and turbulence far away from our spotless white tablecloth and our mass at the lowest point of the dish keeps the whole structure stable so that we don’t flip over.

The view is unsurpassed in the history of dinner parties and the journey is long enough to allow us to finish our brandy and cigars before the dish lands with a sharp jolt. We step into our waiting limousine and retire to the hotel.

wagster, Sep 20 2005

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       woooo hooooooooo oooooo oooooooooooo ooooooo   

       *edit*   

       on second thoughts, I think my brain would tell me to be terrified and start throwing up even though I wouldnt be actually feeling any of the sensory impact of dropping from a helicopter
chocolateraindrops, Sep 20 2005
  

       get a ride in a balloon or zeppelin or something. You don't need the heli to board, if you trun of the engines you can float all you want, and when you need to come down you can return to the spot where you left of.   

       Oh and using a heli to lift a very big plate wont work, the downwash from the heli (== the downpressure on the plate) nullifies the lift trom the heli.
nietsch, Sep 20 2005
  

       Could be a problem, depends how low you suspend the disc. Give it a 500m drop and I should think the downwash will have dissipated by then. You could always use two choppers, but it would be better to be directly above for loading purposes. Balloon? Zeppellin? Been done.
wagster, Sep 21 2005
  

       parsnips? ew, maybe we can just drop the parsnips on the cars and pedestrians
dentworth, Sep 21 2005
  

       "Ok we're ready to drop 1..2..3..Drop!"   

       "Oh shit NOT YET!..too late Capt'n, thunder storm approaching"
skinflaps, Sep 21 2005
  

       Wouldn't this thing oscillate wildly if it wasn't spinning?
and can you confirm my seven thirty reservation?
  

       I'm sure this would just tip onto its edge before plummeting to the ground, giving you merely the chance to observe (briefly) the much larger surface area to mass ratio of your starter, compared to (say) yourself.   

       Change it from perspex to aerogel and I might reconsider, though.
moomintroll, Sep 25 2005
  

       [moom] - Take a shallow pyrex dish, place a small stone in the middle, hold it just beneath the surface of a swimming pool and let go. Then observe its behaviour on the way down.
wagster, Sep 25 2005
  

       Hmmm... well, okay, I'll concede the stability thing (assuming you;ve performed that little exp) but I still don't think the area/weight ratio is ever going to be good enough to make this work in air. I suppose I could work it out. If I could be bothered. Until then, I retract my fishbone. Here, fishie!
moomintroll, Sep 25 2005
  

       //[moom] - Take a shallow pyrex dish, place a small stone in the middle, hold it just beneath the surface of a swimming pool and let go. Then observe its behaviour on the way down.//
[wags] are we taking bets on when the thing flips over?. It will flip over though, won't it?!. Them has some big winds up there, too!.
gnomethang, Sep 25 2005
  

       Preposterously perfect.
sleeka, Sep 25 2005
  

       //assuming you;ve performed that little exp// I haven't, I was bluffing it. However if we try it the dish will do one of two things, it will either drop vertically, slowly and steadily (what we want) or it will oscillate horizontally as it falls, sliding left, gliding up until it stalls, then reversing and gliding right (what we don't want). It won't tip on it's edge.   

       I suspect that deeper dishes will be stable and shallow dishes will oscillate. I tried to calculate the terminal velocity of the whole contraption assuming it's 1/3 of a sphere, 200m diameter and made out of 10mm perspex. I ran out of maths though.   

       [2fries] - your reservation is confirmed, will spinning really stop it oscillating? I wouldn't think so.   

       [gnome] - Winds not a problem, you will be fairly stationary relative to the air just like a balloon. Turbulence is another matter...
wagster, Sep 25 2005
  

       [wagster] The spin would cause the whole thing to act like a gyroscope, which would tend to prevent any oscillation (gyroscopes like to remain on a single plane). Think frisbee (ever tried dropping one of those from head height without spinning it?)   

       However, all the spinning might cause the dinner to not stay down as long as it should.
danpat, Sep 25 2005
  

       Thanks [danpat], I shall put a circular plinth on bearings in the centre so that the furniture may remain static while the disc spins. Angular momentum to the disc will be supplied by fireworks mounted on the rim. This should also be sufficient to scare the bejaysus out of any yokels below.
wagster, Sep 26 2005
  
      
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