Physics student, audience on pins and needles

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Bill Ryan lay down on a bed of nails while another student covered him with an identical board — he then placed a cinderblock on the board and smashed it with a sledgehammer.

Ryan, a graduate student in physics, was unharmed, but said he was a little nervous because he’d never tried it before.

“I know the physics,” he said. “I know I’m going to be safe.”

Ryan explained that the large amount of nails supported the weight of his body and the cinderblock absorbed the force of the hammer’s blow.

The Graduate Association of Physics Students organized the demonstration. Their table also offered mint chocolate chip ice cream flash-frozen with liquid nitrogen.

— Kiera Manion-Fischer