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Samsung Rains Paper Airplanes From Space 122

itwbennett writes "Note to Samsung: If you want to prove how reliable your SD memory cards are, don't hire 'the U.K.'s leading paper plane professional' to build you 100 special paper aircraft. And then definitely don't use a giant helium balloon to send them 122,503 feet into space. Because while some of the planes will fly as far as Sydney and Bangalore, chances are that all the press you'll get will be about the crazy stunt and no one will remember a thing about the SD cards."
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Samsung Rains Paper Airplanes From Space

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  • The Register did it first: []

    • The register didn't manage to get it across a country, let alone across a continent.
      Also, Samsung sponsored it, the guy from, Joel Veitch, was the one who launched them.

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @04:35PM (#35142506) Homepage Journal
    They dropped a bunch of SD-card-carrying paper airplanes over Germany from 122,000 feet. Some of those planes glided all the way to Australia and India!

    Who cares if it was an effective media campaign or not? It's frigging cool.
    • It's not a terrible idea, and in the grand scheme of things not that expensive either. Probably less than a couple minutes advertising or a :30 on the Superbowl..... Reasonable chance that the stunt got picked up by mainstream media, and it did make it into /. and The Register.

      Kind of cool

    • Australia, india, Russia and even possibly Canada and the northern U.S. (the article said those were unconfirmed).

      I think it's pretty awesome indeed. Too bad the planes did not have micro cameras on them recording the decent onto the SD cards, that would have been something.

    • For some reason it reminds me of that South Park episode [] where Randy Marsh steals a superconducting magnet that enables their pine box derby car to travel faster than light. I can imagine some kids trying to one up each other about how they made paper airplanes that went X feet, and then some engineer walks up and says 'yeah, well I once made a paper airplane that from Germany to Australia, bitch.'

      ("Oh no, not Finrand!")
    • by Keys1337 ( 1002612 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @05:05PM (#35142894)
      The claim that planes were found so far away seems like total BS. Assuming the planes could cross the globe (unlikely) then finding any of the 200 planes over such a vast area much of which is remote or ocean is highly doubtful.
      • by Gavin Scott ( 15916 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @05:50PM (#35143418)

        Agreed, the reports of sightings and recovery are almost certainly mostly (or all) hoaxes, and the people doing this seem to be in no hurry to confirm them.

        All these people saying "who cares, it's cool!" should consider whether it's still cool if all the planes fell to the ground within 100 miles of the launch point and none have yet been found.

        Yes, it WOULD be cool if planes made it to Sydney or Bangalore, but if people are just making this shit up then maybe not so much.

        Dreaming of what might happen is fine, but you get no points for pretending it happened if it didn't, and you do people a disservice by doing so. There's plenty of stuff in the world that's cool these days, but hardly anyone notices because it's completely overshadowed by fantasy crap that people make up and pretend is real to the point that your average member of the public has no idea what's real any more., and few people have a basis for actually understanding how to appreciate the stuff that actually IS real and insanely cool.

        You drop 100 paper planes from 23 miles up and more than 2% of them glide for thousands of miles (in different directions) and land in heavily populated areas where they are found by people (who actually report the find) only a couple days after they're launched?

        Color me skeptical on this one, sorry.


        • All these people saying "who cares, it's cool!" should consider whether it's still cool if all the planes fell to the ground within 100 miles of the launch point and none have yet been found.

          Yeah, I think that would be pretty cool.
        • All these people saying "who cares, it's cool!" should consider whether it's still cool if all the planes fell to the ground within 100 miles of the launch point and none have yet been found.

          Yes. Yes, that would still be cool. How far have YOU had a paper airplane travel lately?

          Hell, the mere act of dropping a hundred paper airplanes from 122,503 feet, regardless of how far they all go, is still pretty damn awesome, all things considered.

          Honestly, no sense of wonder anywhere anymore.

        • ...because it's completely overshadowed by fantasy crap that people make up and pretend is real...

          I know I will be modded into geek hell for this one, but...

          You mean like Star Trek []?

        • I agree. Here's some math.

          Your average paper airplane thrown from head height hits the ground in a few seconds -- it descends at about 0.5 m/s. At high altitude, the plane will fall much faster in the thinner air, but since I'm not prepared to tackle stratospheric paper aerodynamics, let's just take 0.5 m/s as a best-case scenario.

          How long does it take to fall 40 km at 0.5 m/s? A bit less than a day. Maximum wind speeds in the jet stream are around 40 m/s: in one day, this will carry the plane a maximum

          • the plane would fall faster if it was pointing down, and could in fact rise if it picked up the right currents...

            not saying you're wrong, but that your assumptions are not representative of the real world. I dont think we can assume anything regarding speeds, since wind is such a huge factor.

            also, how fast can these planes actually travel? it says they were "specially designed", so one assumes they are stronger than your average paper plane.

            All I'm saying is that they COULD fall faster or slower than your

            • It's called an "order of magnitude calculation". Here's a useful book to help you get the hang of 'em:


              I could be wrong about the fall speed of an airplane, but not by more than a factor of 2. There could be updrafts, but on a global scale there are as many updrafts as downdrafts, so they tend to cancel out unless the airplane gets *astonishingly* lucky. And so on. Read the book: it'll change your life.

              • by Genda ( 560240 )

                Actually, the idea that some of these planes may have traveled thousands of miles in not at all unlikely. Several time over the last decade, dust storms in China have resulted in air pollution in California and other western United States. Spiderlings caught in strong updrafts have been found many thousand of miles from their point of origin (as determined by localize species.)

                Depending on where and when they were dropped any number of planes could have caught the jetstream, and would have suddenly found th

              • by Eivind ( 15695 )

                True. But if you release a large count of planes, and they spread out to some degree, it's not unreasonable that *some* of them would be above-average-lucky.

                Thus your guesstimate is good for the average plane, but I'd be unsurprised if releasing a 1000 resulted in a handful that did significantly better.

              • unless the airplane gets *astonishingly* lucky.

                so...lets just assume that the ones that reached Australia were *astonishingly* lucky...and we can move on.

  • by Ogive17 ( 691899 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @04:37PM (#35142542)
    There's a chance they could drop their SD cards without the paper airplane and they'd still work. They don't have much mass and I'm sure their terminal velocity isn't that high. Plus, do they contain many parts that could actually break?

    Of course with my luck owning Samsung products, whatever I bought would stop working a week after the warranty expires (happened to my 56" DLP and 20" widescreen monitor).
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That would be interesting, but impractical. SD cards are hard enough to find if dropped on the carpet 3 feet in front of you. You'll need the plane just to find them again! Not to mention possible liability if someone's child gets hit.

    • There's a chance they could drop their SD cards without the paper airplane and they'd still work. They don't have much mass and I'm sure their terminal velocity isn't that high. Plus, do they contain many parts that could actually break?

      Reminds me of this old review of an early mp3 player (they didn't have hard disks small enough to fit inside them at the time):

      "Both players [MPMan and the RIO] were able to withstand a vigorous shaking with no skips whatsoever" --Matt Rosoff, C|net

      Seriously, if Samsung

    • Re:impact force? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by operator_error ( 1363139 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @10:30PM (#35146136)

      A CompactCard survived a bridge explosion with the photo: []

      Another card one survived the collapse of one of the Twin Towers, with photos from the photographer that perished: []

  • wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <> on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @04:38PM (#35142544) Homepage Journal

    this is an awesome stunt. There is a lot of things t talk about, lots of science. But no, here no /. we just poo-poo and nit pic interesting things to death.

    Clearly the stunt was a fail because no one is talking about it~

  • "It's a helicopter, and it's coming this way. It's flying something behind it, I can't quite make it out, it's a large banner and it says, uh - Happy... Thaaaaanksss... giving! ... From ... W ... K ... R... P!! No parachutes yet. Can't be skydivers... I can't tell just yet what they are, but - Oh my God, Johnny, they're turkeys!! Johnny, can you get this? Oh, they're plunging to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! Oh, the humanity! The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Not since the Hindenburg tragedy has there been anything like this!"
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      "as God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." []

    • As god is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!

    • Post the full video [] or it didn't happen!

    • Wild turkeys can fly. I didn't believe it until I saw one in a tree just a few weeks ago. Then, it got a bit scared of us and fluttered over to another branch.

      OTOH, plump, farm-raised, hormone-injected turkeys? I guess they can't fly. Given that the wild version prefers to walk or skip-hop, the domesticated version probably loses flight due to the way it's treated.

      Pigs are like this too. Wild boar vs. farm pig? No comparison. The boar has to coexist with mountain lions. 'nuff said.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        I think you mean that can 'fly'.

        In very short low distance. You throw a wild turkey out of a helicopter it will plummet to it's death.

        • I don't think a wild turkey thrown out of a chopper would die. Gliding is easier than flying. Then again, it may not have a gliding instinct since the flying that I've seen on YouTube vids I pulled up is all of the "escape into a tree" variety. Just because gliding is easier than gaining altitude, doesn't mean they know how to do it.

          In this vid [] there does appear to be some gliding, although it's not very clear (towards the end).

          Without actually putting the helicopter scenario to the test, it's all just

        • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

          Wild turkey can fly quite well. They also can see very well. They are however incredibly stupid, I have shot at one, missed it and called the same bird back in.

      • OTOH, plump, farm-raised, hormone-injected turkeys? I guess they can't fly.

        They also can't mate. Too much bird gets in the way. I can't [] make this [] shit up... [] Do not stroke the tom more than twice. []

        Yay for having a fiance in her last year of a Bachelor of Animal Science degree... Imagine what I'll learn when she goes for her Master's...

      • The commercial bronze turkeys I cared for back in the day could fly despite being huge. They didn't get more than 20' off the ground, but they could glide well.
    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Video: []

  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @04:41PM (#35142592) Journal

    First of all, I think the snide tone of the ITWorld article is annoying. It's actually kind of cool, there is a point to it, and as far as "litter" goes, one or two happy meals from McDonalds would contain as much paper and electronics and plastics as all those planes combined. Funny how ITWorld didn't even report if the recovered cads actually worked or not (most obviously they did, or ITWorld would have made fun of Samsung otherwise).

    What I find interesting is that the planes dispersed so drastically - the distance from Russia to Australia is extremely impressive. I would've expected jet streams and weather systems and the like to have tended to keep the planes together, but I guess up that high things are calm they are free to go their own way for a very long way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      This is Samsung's method for targeting slashdot.

      1. Put the engineers in charge of marketing for a day.

      2. Have someone assess the marketing value of the mess and write an article.

      3. Submit said article to slashdot.

      4. ???

      5. Profit!!

      6. Laugh maniacally as you patent a business method for bypassing adblock via social engineering and interdisciplinary cross-training.

      • I would happily live in a world where every company put engineers in charge of marketing. Just imagine the explosions!

  • 100 paper planes?! That's almost enough paper for a BIBLE! How dare they litter.
  • by Syncerus ( 213609 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @04:49PM (#35142674)

    Come on, admit it. The little kid inside you thought this was really cool. :D

    If this doesn't bring a smile to your face, then you're not a real geek.

  • by khendron ( 225184 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @05:01PM (#35142846) Homepage

    I thought SD cards could fly!

  • by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <hobbes@xmsn[ ]nl ['et.' in gap]> on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @05:02PM (#35142854)

    Neither TFA nor the project website [] contain decent images of the actual paper airplanes. What design did they choose, and how did they find a design that would work this well?

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @05:12PM (#35142992)

    1) From a security standpoint... if I were an *sshat, I would quickly make some airplanes, stick some infected SD cards in them, and drop them outside of known geek's houses. I bet a guy who wouldn't dream of inserting some random USB key into his computer could be suckered if he thought he'd found one of those "space SD cards".

    2) I'm ashamed to admit this, but after reading the article (btw I'm ashamed to admit that as well) in my mind I kept hearing the Amoeba Boys leader's voice saying "Littering!" (if you weren't a PowerPuff Girls fan, you'll have no idea).

    3) The little boy inside me thinks this was REALLY cool. Paper planes from Europe landing all over the world!

  • by Stenchwarrior ( 1335051 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @05:21PM (#35143098)
    ...Nikon or Canon did the same thing but with small cameras, and then recorded the flight path of each airplane. Slightly more expensive, but the cool factor is way higher.
  • by Gavin Scott ( 15916 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @05:32PM (#35143234)

    While I am dubious of all the reported sightings/recovery of the planes (which seem rather fantastic), I think it's cool that Samsung did (or at least supported) this, and it will increase the chance I pay the extra buck next time I'm out choosing whether to pay $8 for a more generic, or $9 for a Samsung SD card :)


  • by Revotron ( 1115029 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @05:36PM (#35143286)
    Samsung's awesome paper-plane-drop idea was nowhere near as environmentally disastrous as the amount of CO2 the author of TFA released while hyperventilating over this harmless stunt. ITWorld is now the world's number-one emitter of smug. (Credit for the idea of "smug" pollution goes to South Park season 10 episode 2)
  • 1 in 528 glideslope, not sure I believe this

    • I was thinking the same thing. Also the fact that more than a few have been supposedly spotted out of 100... I highly doubt they'll find more than 1 or 2 outside of (relatively) densely populated europe (assuming they went as far as they are claiming). The amount of land where any person can see at any given time is a very small percentage of the earth's surface.

      As far as actually making it that far, I also highly doubt it, but then again there are currents and updrafts (as the other guy stated), and surely

    • by Anonymous Coward

      1:528 is almost straight down, as opposed to 528:1 which would be amazing.

    • Meh...high-performance gliders have a glideslope of something like 40:1 (don't quote me on that, but IIRC it's in the ballpark), yet they can fly hundreds of miles if conditions are right (at a 10,000 foot launch altitude -- which is absurdly high -- a 40:1 glideslope would give a range of only 40,000 feet or roughly eight miles).
    • Glide slope is probably irrelevant. The upper atmosphere windspeeds (up to 40 m/s) are much greater than your average paper plane's airspeed (5 m/s or so), so the plane isn't so much flying as it is falling slowly while carried by the wind. The right calculation is to figure out how far the wind will carry it in the time it takes to hit the ground. Which still gives an answer much smaller than Germany to Jakarta, so I agree that the "sightings" are probably hoaxes. []

  • Who hit me with this airplane? Which one of you guys hit me with this GD airplane?! WHO HIT ME WITH THIS F-ING PAPER AIRPLANE!

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @05:43PM (#35143366)

    Sure ... AFTER everyone stops talking about the crazy stunt ... people will probably stop talking about Samsung SD cards. And in a couple weeks people will stop talking about Super Bowl ads ... and its the most expensive advertising time in the world. But in both cases, a lot of people will have already bought the product before they attention fads away.

    Thats how marketing works. Thats WHY marketing exists ... to get people information about your product and get people interested in it. No press is bad press when it comes to marketing. If people are looking at you for just about any reason, they aren't looking at your competition.

    While the submitter may be too much of a poser geek to be interested in things like the paper airplane design and the course something would take to find its way to Sydney from Germany or any of the thousands of other neat things that can be learned from this event, I will certainly be spending some time looking into it and that means I'll most certainly see a whole bunch of Samsung SD cards and advertisements along the way.

    The fact that you posted this story to slashdot more or less entirely invalidates your summary statement. We're talking about their SD cards right now. It worked.

    Note to submitter: You probably should ever consider taking up a job in public relations or marketing.

  • Dropping a paper plane from 30km, where the air pressure only a few % of that at sea level, where it is most probably plummeting like a stone for half the distance, and we are expected to believe that they make it around the world? I would be very impressed if this was true.

    But I think GPS Boomerang [] is far more geek. An EPP foam plane that flys home from up to 100,000ft to land where I want it to go.

    I would much rather have one of those.

  • This has to be the most efficient aircraft ever made: those paper airplanes got a glide ratio of 200:1! That's insane! Comparatively, most aircraft get glide ratios around 15:1. []

    According to the article they launched from Wolfsburg, Germany and some landed in Bangalore, India. Wolfram alpha says that is >7000km []. The 122,00 feet is about 37km.

    • You forgot two things:
      1) Glide ratio applies to the distance forward traveled compared to the distance downward traveled in a column of still air. The jet stream can reach well over a hundred miles an hour, which really kicks your glide ratio up a couple of notches;
      2) Glide ratio does not take weather-related sources of lift into effect. If the air around you is rising faster than you are descending through it, you will gain altitude, even though your flight path relative to the AIR around you (as oppo
      • Even if you assume it falls as slowly at high altitude as it does near the ground, and even if you assume it's traveling in jet-stream speed winds the whole way, there's still no way for it to go from Germany to Jakarta before it hits the ground. See math & assumptions here: []

        Weather-related sources of lift may be significant over short distances, but what goes up must come down, so updrafts are as common as downdrafts. A human glider pilo

  • by handy_vandal ( 606174 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @06:37PM (#35143990) Homepage Journal

    "Don't hire ... definitely don't ... chances are that all the press you'll get will be about the crazy stunt and no one will remember a thing ..."

    I detect jealousy.

    Go ahead: do hire ... definitely do ... chances are that all the press you'll get will be about the crazy stunt ... which is fine. So go ahead and do it.

  • by Schemat1c ( 464768 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @07:11PM (#35144342) Homepage

    I thought SD cards could fly.


  • First they put "Scientists" in quotation marks. Ouch.

    "one of the more aggressive attempts at littering in modern times"

    "Samsung never explained why it believed it could prove the reliability of its products by scattering them and random bits of paper across the globe"

    Oh come on. Get a sense of fun and science and stuff! This is one of the most grumpy-old-fart articles I've read in some time. It doesn't prove much about Samsung's cards... who cares... it proves that they're willing to helps a bunch of ge

  • You'll need air traffic control clearance even far away from airports to start even smaller balloons.
  • Samsung makes SD cards?
  • A good glider has a 20:1 glide ratio, and a well designed paper glider could achieve this, theoretically you could do better. Given a release altitude of 23 miles which gives 460 miles as an upper bound. Thats before you count jet streams which are at about 5-8 miles up and really pour on the speed at up to 400kph (250mph). Known to cut flight times by as much as 40% around the globe, they are not to be underestimated. It may take 20 hours for a glider to reach the ground, with several hours in a jet stream

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.