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Meet the crunch bunch.

The folks at Underwriters Laboratories slam televisions, drop anvils on fire helmets, and even try to blow things up with nitroglycerin.

And they never go in time-out to think about what they've done!

That's because for more than 100 years, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has independently tested appliances, tools, and all kinds of equipment for safety. If the lamp next to your bed has the UL label, you know they've tried everything they could think of to get it to catch fire, and couldn't.

Now you can give testing a try at the brand-new "Test the Limits Lab," part of the Epcot Center at Walt Disney World in Florida. You'll get a crack at television screens, emergency doors, firefighters' helmets, just the kind of things tested at UL every day.

Here are some of the exhibits you'll find at the "Test the Limits Lab":

* The Shatter Lab--Had it with reality television? Swat the swill with a swinging missile to see what the UL's real television tube test is like.

* The Slam Lab--Jump up and down on pads that activate a set of emergency doors. The UL says fire doors must be opened and closed 100,000 times and still open with only three pounds of pressure.

* The Impact Lab--Drop a 55-gallon barrel on a firefighter's helmet (firefighter not included).

* The Drop Lab--Imitate how UL engineers play burglar when they heat a safe then drop it from the height of a three-story building.

Almost 20,000 products every year tackle testing at UL. At stake is the right to put the little UL label on the product when it goes up for sale. People all over the world recognize the label as proof that the product has been tested and found to be safe.

In addition, UL engineers make personal visits to factories all around the world to make sure their high standards are being met.

The next time you head to the refrigerator for a nibble, you'll be glad to know that the hard-nosed testers at UL open and shut refrigerator doors a total of 300,000 times before they'll certify them as safe.

That's a lot of snacks--let's hope they grab an apple every time!
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Title Annotation:exhibit at Epcot Center allows visitors to perform product testing similar to work done at Underwriters Laboratories
Publication:Jack & Jill
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:May 1, 2003
Words:365
Previous Article:Picnic eggs.
Next Article:... Wired ... The Usborne Internet-Linked Library of Science: Human Body, Usborne Publishing Ltd., London.
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