Magnus Effect Causes Basketball To Do Something Amazing During Huge Drop
Dropping a basketball over the edge of a dam might seem like an exercise in satisfying one's inner urge to see things go "splat." When the crew of Veritasium gave it a try, they were intrigued when they got two very different results – after only a slight variation in approach. The first approach was a static drop of the basketball, which had the expected result of a reasonably straight descent and some slight movement due to the wind. What would happen, however, if they gave the ball some rotation as they released it?
Applying the slightest amount of backspin would prove to have a dramatic result, thanks to something called the Magnus effect. This happens when the air flowing past the ball acts in conjunction with the ball's rotation to create a force on the ball that essentially makes it "push off" the sky. Witness the ball soar away from the dam as if it had wings, and let us know what you thought of the experiment afterwards in the comments below. Feel free to share this video with all of your friends who geek out on science.