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High-Flying Science, with Strings Attached

In the hands of scientists, a toy does serious data gathering.

By
5:17pm, August 5, 2003

Before airplanes and hot-air balloons came along, early meteorological research was like child's play on a windy day: Scientists flew kites. In the mid-18th century, researchers studied the atmosphere by attaching well-padded thermometers to a kite's tether and sending them aloft. A slow-burning fuse later released the instruments, which plummeted to Earth. The scientists' big challenge was to quickly find the thermometers that survived the fall before they warmed up.

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