PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Since it’s officially spring now, what better way to celebrate than with a cool experiment to try.
Have you ever seen a Loony Tunes Road Runner cartoon. When Wyle E. Coyote runs over the edge of the cliff, he hovers for a moment, until he realizes he is in trouble, then fall.
What if I told you a similar thing can happen to a common toy in real life?
The Levitating Spring is a very easy experiment to do. You technically just need a pre-tensioned spring.
Most cool kids call them “Slinkys”, though. It does help if your smart phone has a slow motion camera on it, too. That way you can see the scientific processes happening much more clearly.
Let the spring dangle all the way down. Once it stops bouncing, this is a state we call “Equilibrium”. At this point the gravitational force downward is equal to the springs force upward. The upward force is caused by the spring (Slinky) trying to get back to its natural resting state, which is when the spring is compressed all together.
When you let go of the top of the spring, gravity takes over, and the top of the spring falls, yet the bottom of the spring looks to hover in place.
Since the top of the spring is no longer being held, it the spring falls, collapsing into itself.
The part of the spring that is still stretched out is still at “equilibrium”, though, so the springs force is still trying to carry it upward, while gravity is still trying to pull it down.
The spring will appear to hover until the spring collapses onto itself.
So, all the ingredients are still in place (gravity, upward spring force, and equilibrium) while the top of the spring is falling, only at a smaller scale. This happens so quickly, but a slow motion camera makes it very clear. SCIENCE!!!! 🙂