What happens when you drop a basketball off the top of a 126.5-meter (415-feet) dam?
The physics of this alone is awesome. And is actually also something that’s been used by sports-people for centuries.. It’s called the Magnus Effect, the phenomenon occurs because the air on the front side of a spinning falling ball is going in the same direction as the balls’ spin, which means it gets dragged along with the falling ball and deflected back. The air flowing on the other side however is moving in the opposite direction of the balls spin.
Basically it’s when the ball pushes the air in one direction, so the air applies equal force on the ball the other way and sends it flying forward. Which you’ll be able to see in action below.
The kind folks over at ScienceAlert elaborate a little more:
“What’s even cooler is that researchers are actually investigating whether the Magnus effect could be used to more sustainably power transport. In fact, there are already Magnus effect-powered ‘sail boats’, that have spinning cylinders receiving force from the air, rather than sails. Engineers even managed to create a plane with spinning cylinders for wings, and found that they actually created more lift than traditional wings. But they also create more drag, which is why the plane only flew once before it crashed.”
See the effect here: