Your Flying Companion Today Will Be a Sack of Potatoes

This potato is still on Instagram.
This potato is still on Instagram. Photo: iStockphoto

Since 2006, Boeing has been using thousands of pounds of potatoes — up to 20,000 pounds at a time — to test Wi-Fi and other radio-based transmissions inside airplanes. Because radio waves pass through and bounce off Yukon Golds in the exact same dielectric way they do with people, the tubers come in handy when new networks need testing. Plus, potatoes never need to use the bathroom, and while you can compensate them for their time, they don’t need the money. Engineers call this mile-high program Synthetic Personnel Using Dialectic Substitution, or SPUDS for short. [WP]