Recently the Youtube Channel Veritasium uploaded a video where a group of people went to the Gordon Dam in Tasmania to create a world record of the highest basket ever made. The dam is 126.5 metres high and they succeeded in making the basket! They had to account for a lot of drift due to the wind but in the end they nailed it. But they also tried something that blew their minds.
They dropped the basketball from the top of the dam, but this time they gave it a bit of a backspin. And they spin allowed the basketball to change direction mid air and drift a great deal forward to finally splash in to the water. The ball bounced once as well and then came to a rest.
This all was due to the Magnus effect which effects round spinning objects like cylinders or balls. The effect works like this: As the basketball (in this case) is moving forward, the air on the front of it moves in the same direction as its spin and gets deflected backwards, while air on the other side moves in the opposite direction. This allows the air to separate from the ball as it is deflected and so it applies an equal and opposite force on the ball, moving it through the air.
This effect is named after Gustav Magnus who described it in 1852, though Newton had already done it in his time.
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