Ever wondered what happens when you drop a slinky?


Steve D kindly sent me this great video.  So, what happens when you drop an extended slinky?  It’s time to find out….


21 comments on “Ever wondered what happens when you drop a slinky?

  1. Eddie says:

    Is this a spoof piece of academic research? It’s certainly more philosophy than physics.

    • Dave says:

      You have a pretty strange conception of philosophy then, Ed.

    • ctj says:

      i agree with Eddie. i watched the video, waiting for the physics explanation that never came. there’s a reason smart people “get uncomfortable with the term information.”

    • Steve says:

      Physics has an underlying philosophical content which seeks to explain observation and theory.

    • Steve says:

      I don’t think it’s a spoof but I might be. In any case I think the physical action of the slinky when dropped fully stretched under gravity is real one. It could be that there is no current theory to explain it or they just weren’t forth coming with one. I agree that an explanation other to invoke information would have been nice. It was fascinating how the bottom seemed to defy gravity until the slinky returned to its unstretched state.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great illustration of kinetic energy

    • Steve says:

      It was moving and therefore had kinetic energy. I’m not sure what you were trying to say with that statement.

  3. Gus Snarp says:

    Man, you are seriously late to this party. You should check out the rest of his videos, they’re all pretty fantastic.

  4. Niva says:

    Veritasium has some awesome videos!

  5. Dharmaruci says:

    i am puzzled why one end must give the other a “head start”. if i held slinky by middle with ends dangling (or by ends with middle dangling) would one end wait for the other or would they both fall at same time.

    also if reverse slinky and then drop. would same end fall faster as did before?

  6. Mervulon says:

    Think of it this way: The bottom of the slinky has an upward vector of force being applied, from the spring tension, that counters the downward acceleration of gravity, netting no downward motion until the upward tension is exhausted via the full collapse of the spring.

    • Mervulon says:

      As the spring collapses, the tension decreases, but so does the remaining mass of the suspended portion of the slinky.

    • Tony says:

      Brialliant – thank you. That’s the explanation that should have been in the video.

    • jools says:

      After a bit of discussion in the office, that was my best guess (me who failed GCSE science, talking to a physics grad, I was so proud). Thank you for confirming it – even though I have no idea who you are and we could both be wrong 😉

    • Steve says:

      Good explanation Mervulon. How would you account for the rotation of the slinky ? I’m not sure when the rotation started but you can see it near the end of the video.

  7. Does the “rule” apply only to slinkies up to a certain length? Or would a chilometer-long slinky behave in the same way?

  8. Jonathan says:

    The explanation is provided in another video:

    I love Veritasium!

  9. Chris says:

    While we’re enjoying slow motion videos, spend a couple of hours watching the superb videos from the Slow Mo guys


  10. gillon1981 says:

    Hi Richard I saw this the other day and although its magic I thought it was still really good use of props and timing with these 2 young men. Enjoy


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