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Outsiders

Because Science: This Flying Basketball Is Making The Internet Self-Implode

There’s a scientific law that can make basketballs fly... Here it is in action

Photot: Veritasium/YouTube Screenshot

Right. Sit down. Now. Why are you still standing? Seriously, we need you to sit down now and help us work out what the hell is going on with this freakish flying basketball. It’s seriously tripping us out.

The video comes from YouTube user Veritasium and Derek Muler, who drops a spinning basketball from some sort of dam or othER WORLDY FREAKIN’ –

– OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THAT SENTENCE AND E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G I KNOW ABOUT THE EARTH – sorry. Stay focused. Let’s stay focused.

Derek drops a spinning basketball from a dam, and the basketball then decides it doesn’t want to fall to its death so it turns into a small aircraft and floats away liKE THaT’s a NoRMAl thiNG FOR A BASKETBALL TO DO.

We can’t deal with this anymore. Watch the video and we’ll try and regain our composure and put our clothes back on by the time you’re done. See you below. We’ll explain everything about the video then, except of course, why it made us get naked.


Okay, don’t worry, we’ve regained our cool. We’ve watched the video above now and learned all about what the hell just happened. We’re also fully clothed.

So, as you’ll have seen, when you drop a normal basketball from a height of 126m, it simply falls downwards, but when you put a bit of backspin on it, it does anything but!

We’re still not sure we’re ready to live in a world where basketball’s can fly…

Why? The Magnus Effect! An effect that applies to every ball and cylinder when it flies through the air.

As the ball gains speed, air on the front side of the ball is going in the same direction as its spin, dragging it along the ball and deflecting it back. Air on the other side meanwhile separates from the ball instead of getting deflected, meaning, ultimately, that the ball gets drawn in a particular direction.

It’s pretty complicated stuff, and we’re sure you’ve realised that the video does a lot better job of describing it than we do. We’re still not sure we’re ready to live in a world where basketballs can fly.

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