Four students from the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy have done the impossible and called out beloved children’s author Roald Dahl for bad science.
In Roald Dahl’s book James and the Giant Peach (which was made into a movie produced by Tim Burton in 1996; both were referenced in the study) James, the seven year old main character, sails across the Atlantic Ocean in house-sized peach with some giant, talking insects that happened to be living in the fruit.
For the first leg of the sea adventure he sails the giant peach like a boat. Then (spoiler alert) the peach is lifted into the air by 501 seagulls that had to be tethered to the stem of the peach by the thread of the Silkworm or the peach’s residents would have all been the stars of an episode of “Shark Week.”
The research team looked at both the ability of the peach to be navigable and the execution of the 501 seagull rescue.