Incoming: Meet the Trebuchet 

Disclaimer: this article was written for the April 1st issue and is a part of The Goofly. This Grizzly issue is satirical. 

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) have been making waves, or rather craters, across campus by once again operating the trebuchet. Students in the society have used it for everything from computations in Advanced Classical Mechanics to letting off steam, and have conducted a series of “test” launches before their upcoming trebuchet launch event.

These past few weeks of tests have seen Pfahler lawn filled with craters as well as gaps blasted in the wall of the Myrin Library and a completely decimated BWC. The test reports state that the blasts have a 50% target accuracy, however, close sources state they have actually roughly a 87% target accuracy. “Of course they intended to hit BWC. That’s the only way the building will ever get repaired. Do you know how hard it would be to cause that much decimation with a twenty pound wooden trebuchet?” one anonymous source said. One senior, John Taylor, admitted that “we only aim the trebuchet at academic buildings and structures in desperate need of repair. That’s why Ritter is our next target and why BWC ‘accidentally’ had a barrel of grenades thrown at it. Wait, are you recording this?”

When asked why SPS decided it was necessary to keep a medieval siege weapon in working condition, Vice President Mary Layne Boas replied,“why not? We can build a trebuchet. So we’re going to keep a trebuchet.” When concerns were raised about any other weapons being built by student organizations, they quickly clarified that this was merely an academic experiment.

The trebuchet in use, named “Trebuchet,” was first created by students in 2007, but did not become fully sentient until the Screwdriver Duty Mishap of 2022, when a first-year physics student accidentally dropped the screwdriver they used to hold two beryllium half-sphere reflectors apart, caused the “demon core” to temporarily enter criticality, and a burst of neutron radiation shot from the core and was entirely absorbed by the trebuchet across the hall. When asked why Ursinus College houses the infamous demon core, Dr. Lew Riley explained that he had “connections” and did not elaborate beyond debating about whether or not it would be significant to know how to replicate the demon core if one was stranded on a desert island.

Outside of trajectory launch calculations, students can also analyze the crater impacts and alter the initial conditions of the launch to affect the final crater. This has direct student research correspondence, with Dr. Kassie Martin-Wells’ research primarily focusing on counting and categorizing moon craters. When asked to comment, Dr. Martin-Wells said “please do not link this in any way back to me.”

The society plans to host an upcoming event where students can pay the group to launch items, “within reason, of course,” Dale Ostlie ‘25 clarified. “I just hope they don’t launch me,” Dr. Tom Carroll told Goofly representatives. “I know I push my students, but I hope I haven’t pushed them that far.” Dean Mark Schneider allegedly will perform during the event, playing a series of songs on the banjo.

When asked who would repair the damages caused, the society claimed they had free reign to operate their tests as it could possibly help Hannigan increase the retention rate. “How many of our peer institutions have their own trebuchet? Exactly,” she said. 

Unfortunately, due to the FDIC overtaking Ursinus’s financial department since the decision was approved, they have decided there would be no more deficit spending and scrambling to close the gap at the end of the year, and have decided to attempt to fix damages as best they could within their budget. BWC will finally be rebuilt, Myrin will simply get windows wherever a hole is, but Ritter will have to be repaired by the Media and Communication Studies Capstone using duct tape, plastic bags, and past copies of The Goofly. When they were informed that Ritter, in fact, had not taken any damage yet from the trebuchet, the FDIC was shocked. “You mean this building intentionally is the way it is?” one representative asked.

When asked for comment, Hannigan responded, “Little known fact, but Ritter is almost 50% comprised of old copies of Gooflys. In fact, most buildings have a significant amount of Gooflys in their structural support. It’s free supplies every week,” Hannigan explained.

Dr. Ross Martin-Wells commented that when he asked the upperclassmen if they wanted to launch the trebuchet “I did not mean at buildings.” The students maintain that they did not launch the trebuchet at any buildings and simply have a 5,000% error on select launches. Department Chair Dr. Casey Schwarz, when asked about the craters across the lawn and the effects of the trebuchet, said that students will have the opportunity to build further iterations for the trebuchet with upgrades using new Maker Space materials. “The trebuchet and its launches are the perfect example of real life applications for physics majors,” she said. Allegedly Lockheed Martin is interested in sponsoring future projects.

To follow along updates of the trebuchet and the launch dates, connect with SPS on Instagram @uc.sps.