What is the Magnus effect?

The Magnus Effect, discovered by Gustav Magnus in 1852, is applicable to all sorts of sports played with balls – including basketball and baseball. And now talented engineers are attempting to employ the effect to revolutionize flying and sailing.

The experiment conducted by engineers was done in two 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 video went viral after people got fascinated by the unbelievable feart

The ball falls at first but then swoops and soars like a bird as it nears the ground. “I literally just dropped it with a bit of spin, like, I didn’t even throw it and it just took off, we had no idea it was going to do that,” the guy who threw it said.

Here’s an explanation of what’s happening from Veritasium:

‘As the basketball picks up speed, air on the front side of the ball is going in the same direction as its spin and therefore it gets dragged along with the ball and deflected back.

“Air on the other side is moving opposite to the ball’s spin so the flow separates from the ball instead of getting deflected.

“The net result is the ball pushes air one way so the air applies in equal force on the ball the other way, and this is known as the Magnus effect, named after Heinrich Gustav Magnuswho described it in 1852.”

What is the Magnus effect?

The Magnus effect is the commonly observed effect in which a spinning ball (or cylinder) curves away from its principal flight path. It affects spinning missiles, and has some engineering uses, for instance in the design of rotor ships and Flettner aeroplanes.

“The net result is the ball pushes the air one way so the air applies an equal force on the ball the other way”.


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