Penguins do not fall over!

Everyone has read the story about penguins falling over backwards while observing low-flying aircraft. The Annals of Improbable Research reports that Dr. Richard Stone has been researching the ecological effects of helicopter overflights on King penguins and his preliminary results show that King penguins do not, in fact, fall over backwards (or forwards or even sideways) when you fly over them. On the other hand, low-flying aircraft do create distress among the penguins; Dr. Stone recommends a minimum overflight altitude of 1000 feet.

[Typo fixed, 24 September.]

Comments (20)
  1. Cooney says:

    Funny, the stories I had heard always involved bored fighter pilots.

  2. mpz says:

    Maybe they did fall over backwards in the past, but not anymore. That means they’re learning (at a geometric rate?). Pretty soon they’ll discover fire, and bye bye lowlands then..

  3. Alex says:

    I bet at least 90% read the title and thought you were going to bash Linux! :)

  4. Miles Archer says:

    I thought it was in regards to:

  5. I doubt we will hear Raymond bashing Linux. If you grep the the CREDITS file you would see why.

  6. Norman Diamond says:

    9/23/2004 10:51 AM Steven Edwards

    > I doubt we will hear Raymond bashing Linux.

    > If you grep the the CREDITS file you would

    > see why.

    Which CREDITS file is "the" CREDITS file here? It sounds interesting.

    Meanwhile, it’s no loss if Mr. Chen doesn’t bash Linux. People who use enough of both Windows and Linux are quite willing to bash both of them equally. I’ve posted the following in other places before:

    There are two essential differences between Windows and Linux.

    (1) With Linux, you DO get what you pay for (except if you pay for it).

    (2) With Linux, when something needs fixing, if you’re a programmer then you DO have a snowball’s chance in hell of fixing it.

    I had some spare time to struggle with SuSE 9.1 a few weeks ago and still hold that opinion. Though actually I realize now there is a third essential difference and this one is really important:

    (3) Linux has not destroyed the entire contents of a hard disk partition other than when I told it to.

  7. Aswin Gunawan says:

    Linux kernel CREDITS? It says Raymond is the author of Configure script.

  8. Manip says:

    (3) Linux has not destroyed the entire contents of a hard disk partition other than when I told it to.

    Has for me..

  9. nikita says:

    ah, so this is actually about lemmings rather than penguins: whenever "bashing" and "Linux" appears within their attention span, they run to that funny little hell of theirs. I wonder what are "ecological effects" of this. :)

    PS: Raymond, there is a typo "effcts" in the original post.

  10. Gene says:

    All software sucks. Linux & Windows just suck differently.

    I come here (as a Linux geek) because Raymond is kind enough to explain WHY Windows does a lot of the strange stuff it does.

    Anyway, does anybody have a link to the Bloom County cartoon about this very subject?? I lost my copy and it was pretty funny.

  11. foxyshadis says:

    Helicopter smelicopter. Did he do any research on flying mach 1.5 100 ft overhead?

  12. lowercase josh says:

    If anything "Penguins do not fall over!" sounds like a potential title for something promoting Linux.

    The other question it brings to mind is whether the penguins in question are like those little wobbly toys that don’t fall over unless you push them really hard. So the plane flies over and they just wobble a bit…

  13. that was funny. thank you.

  14. Raymond Chen says:

    I don’t get it. I’m writing about penguins falling over and the thread gets hijacked by linux discussion! Could we talk about penguins?

  15. Seng-Ming Tan says:

    Coincidentally, this fortune popped up for me today.

    A Mexican newspaper reports that bored Royal Air Force pilots stationed

    on the Falkland Islands have devised what they consider a marvelous new

    game. Noting that the local penguins are fascinated by airplanes, the

    pilots search out a beach where the birds are gathered and fly slowly

    along it at the water’s edge. Perhaps ten thousand penguins turn their

    heads in unison watching the planes go by, and when the pilots turn

    around and fly back, the birds turn their heads in the opposite

    direction, like spectators at a slow-motion tennis match. Then, the

    paper reports "The pilots fly out to sea and directly to the penguin

    colony and overfly it. Heads go up, up, up, and ten thousand penguins

    fall over gently onto their backs.

    — Audobon Society Magazine

  16. Kennie Robins says:

    A lot of things – not just penguins – will fall over when a plane overflies at mach 1.5 @ 100 ft.

  17. Norman Diamond says:

    9/27/2004 11:59 PM Kennie Robins

    9/28/2004 12:00 AM Kennie Robins

    > will fall over

    including clocks. That reminds me of some VB code I’m working on right now, where among tons of other things, there’s one call to Date() and one call to Time() when the program needs to record an event. I wonder why they never had off-by-one-day errors. At least it’s not really too expensive to call Date() twice and choose one of them based on whether the Time was after or before noon (and most PCs are fast enough to make the choice accurate).

  18. James Bernard says:

    Im a penguin and i fall over when i watch a plane go overhead! HA PROVED U ALL WRONG.. PENGUINS DO FALL OVER!!!!

  19. Dr penguin says:

    yes they do fall over

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