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Magnus Effect Makes A Basketball Fly Away When Dropped From Dam

Magnus Effect Makes A Basketball Fly Away When Dropped From Dam

The How Ridiculous team set out to break a world record and accidentally stumbled upon the discovery of a 400 year old physics principle. With this ridiculous basketball trick, the team arrived at the Gordon Dam in Tasmania, intent upon setting a World Record for the highest basket ever scored. In testing the way that gravity and wind would affect the basketball as it was dropped or thrown from around 415 feet above the basketball hoop, a little trial and error ensued. As you can imagine, wind resistance and environmental breezes greatly affect the accuracy of such a drop. In their experimentation, the team discovered something quite amazing when a little backspin was applied to the ball. Just a little backspin seemed to create a little lift and caused the ball to drop to the earth a little slower. The strange part, however, was that the ball actually projected outward at a distance of approximately half of the total drop. That’s around two hundred feet that the ball projected from an intended straight drop, with backspin applied, from a height of just over 400 feet! After the How Ridiculous team’s brief physics education, their friend from Veritasium put together a little video to further explain the strange occurrence known as the Magnus Effect.

Watch the ridiculous basketball trick below and all will be explained.

Wow! It’s crazy to think about the theories and scientific principles and laws that were discovered nearly 400 years ago, and then revisited and named in the mid 1800’s. How a ridiculous basketball trick can take us to the real world applications utilizing moving cylinders as sails is far beyond my grasp of physics. The theoretical applications for cylindrical winged flying machines and cars seem like a far stretch, but it’s something pretty amazing to think about and it definitely got my gears turning.


All of this stirring of my gray matter is thanks to a simple, ridiculous basketball trick shot.

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