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It is one thing to have a great theoretical design concept – say, a table or desk that might save your life in an earthquake or other building collapse – and another to build and test a real-life prototype.

A student and professor pair, Arthur Brutter and Ido Bruno, started with the classic advice of hiding under one’s school desk in an earthquake, but asked how safe a proposition this really is.

To see how their own variant would work, they dropped a thousand-kilogram weight on it – sure enough, it deformed but did not break, effectively protecting the person stowed away beneath it.