Scientists at NASA had built a gun specifically to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity. The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields.

British engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high-speed trains. Arrangements were made, and a gun was sent to the British engineers.

When the gun was fired and the chicken hurtled out of the barrel, the engineers stood shocked as it crashed into the shatterproof windshield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer's backrest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin. The Britons sent NASA a detailed report covering the exact steps they had followed and the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the design of the windshield, and asked the U.S. scientists for suggestions.

NASA responded with a three-word memo:

"Thaw the chicken."

Published in the November 1999 issue of the NightTimes