Science with Crossbows

From today’s seminar: “Of course, you cannot do this experiment in ordinary atmospheric pressure. It will explode. We observed this. It was quite messy.”
Also, the presenter was a German scientist with a group trying to model planetary accretion. Their experiments needed to propel marble-sized samples into a 1kg dust target in vacuum. The found the best way of doing this was with a small holder mounted to an arrow which was fired from a crossbow. The crossbow was placed in the vacuum chamber and was fired remotely. The holder and arrow would be stopped as soon as they were no longer accelerated by the bowstring and the samples would then fly out of the holder to the target.
It’s worth pointing out that the title of the presentation was “What can Wilhelm Tell teach us about planetary accretion?”
I imagine the paperwork needed to approve the purchase of the crossbow for the lab went something like this:
Item: Crossbow
Quantity: 1
Reason: SCIENCE!

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