Tension Vs. Gravity: Slo-Motion Stretched Slinky Drop Reveals 'Hovering' Bottom End

September 26, 2011


This is a video of a stretched-out Slinky being dropped in slow motion. Amazingly, the bottom end remains motionless in the air until the top of the Slinky catches up to it. Physicist Rod Cross (the sweet ol' grandpa looking guy!) explains what's happening and why it appears that way, but I'm still trying to figure out how Slinky traps air spirits in their toys. Also, one time I dropped a Magic 8 Ball and a wizard came out disguised as purple water. Haha, you can't fool me wizard! (I drank him to absorb his powers).

Hit the jump for two videos of the experiment, the second one with a tennis ball attached!

Slow Motion Slinky Drop of the Day [thedailywh.at]

Thanks to Mark, who once dropped a hula hoop out of his tree fort and knocked his little sister off the swing set. Cold.

  • The demonstration would be more understandable, but less amazing, if the professor dropped something else from the same height as the slinky at the same moment.

    We would see that the top of the slinky falls faster than the reference object.

    When released, the slinky contracts as it falls. The top end falls faster than plain gravity, and the bottom end falls slower as the contracting slinky pulls on it. The amazing part is that the slinky applies just enough force on the bottom end to suspend that end in the air, until the slinky completes its contraction, and then falls as a unit.

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