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How to Lie on a Bed of Nails

Looking for a science project with an edge? With a few simple steps, you can hammer home fun facts about physics!


  • TIP: If you perform this trick in front of an audience, turn your head to them and smile.
  • Step 1: Have your partner help you up, being careful to keep as much of your body on the bed of nails as possible until you're on your feet. Then, take a bow and breathe easy.
  • FACT: In 2009, 3,000 people gathered in a Stockholm park and lay on beds of nails -- 500 of them fell asleep.
  • Step 2: Put the bed on the ground, spiked-side up, and, with a partner's help, lie down so your body is spread over the bed. Remember: avoiding pain is all about distributing your weight as evenly as possible over the nails.
  • Step 3: Screw the wood paneling to the non-spiked side of the plywood using the wood screws; this ensures the bed's nails stand up straight.
  • Step 4: Draw a grid of 1-inch squares on the surface of the plywood. Drill a hole at each intersection of the grid, using a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the width of the nails.
  • TIP: Double-check the grid before drilling to ensure the holes will be distributed evenly throughout the board.
  • Step 5: Drive a nail through each hole so the back of the nail is flush with the plywood. Your skin can endure approximately two pounds of force from an ordinary nail before you feel pain -- so the more nails in the bed, the less of your weight each of them will have to support.
  • : Do not try this at home. Only attempt under the supervision of someone with considerable experience conducting physics experiments and coordinating stunts.

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