We thought LeBron James already tried them all and yet, scientists proved on Wednesday that basketballs can fly like birds due to the Magnus effect. This experiment was performed by the team from How Ridiculous near the 145 feet Gordon Dam in Tasmania explaining how this mechanism works.
The Magnus effect is a principle from physics, which presupposes that the ball revolves around itself forcing the air around it to head in the opposite direction and, thus, push the ball forward. This strange phenomenon was first noticed and studied by the German physicist Gustav Magnus, whose name has been used to describe the effect.
The team at How Ridiculous wanted to explain the sports effect in lay terms; therefore, they have filmed the experiment as they performed it at the Gordon Dam in Tasmania. They have chosen this location because it is one of the tallest places on Earth and they could, thus, better observe the movements of the falling ball.
The experiment was made out of two phases; during the first stage, the YouTube demonstrator simply dropped the ball from the Gordon Dam, while the rest of the team closely observed its movements. The ball initially had a straight direction, but then, it gradually shifted towards the right showing that the pressure of the air caused it to change direction.
The following step that researchers have made was to spin the ball while releasing it, without enacting any pressure on it. The basketball did not fall into the dam, but moved forward and at a certain point began flying parallel to the water.
This clearly indicates that spinning the ball before releasing it prevents the air from blocking the object. Quite the opposite, the air acts as a propelling force allowing the ball to move on longer distances.
Thanks to this demonstration, scientists can now better understand the Magnus effect and find new appliances for it in sports and other fields. The finding is expected to trigger lots of interest on behalf of sport practitioners as it can help improve their techniques.
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