Better Than Brainiac

July 27th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, brainiac | 12 Comments »

Now this is what I’m talking about: real kids, exploring real science. Observe the illusion of “centrifugal” force.

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12 Responses

  1. ayupmeduck said,

    July 27, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    Whoa! Watching that video I was hoping that the worst wasn’t going to happen. Maybe it didn’t ’cause it could have easily been a couple of broken necks.

    As a kid I always wanted to test out the conservation of angular momentum on the playground, but the old rusty “roundabouts” were never up to the job. Here in Germany they of course have precision made near friction-less playground karussell where you can pull yourself steadily into the middle and make the things spin like a top. If you ever try it out, my tip is get the children off first. I can’t reliably guess how fast we’ve managed to make these spin but possibly well over 120 rpm. If you’re sitting on the outside when this happens then you’ll get a very quick lesson on both angular momentum and centrifugal force.

    For the people that pull themselves into the centre it is nearly always a lesson on acute motion sickness.

  2. scatter said,

    July 27, 2006 at 10:03 pm


    more good science here…

  3. Ithika said,

    July 28, 2006 at 2:11 am

    My physics teacher used to teach us conservation of angular momentum with a stool that he had which had a rotating seat on the top. If you sat on the seat with small weights in your hands, arms stretched out, then after a gentle spin pulled your arms in, it gave quite a dramatic (and visible to other classmates) result. And no necessarily any broken limbs like this video surely provided!

  4. mushyp said,

    July 28, 2006 at 10:48 am

    for top quality “So what’s the difference between complete and incomplete combustion?” fun, you could do significantly worse than this. Proper science.

  5. jackpt said,

    July 28, 2006 at 11:26 am

    Farting in the bath is a better introduction to science than Braniac.

  6. mushyp said,

    July 28, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    And this is even better than farting in the bath.

    Hands up who wants in on some Dutch research. That’s one hell of a proposal:
    “Having established that blowing 6 MW will float a strwaberry, we decided to see if it works on a frog”

    Again, proper science

  7. monkeychicken said,

    August 2, 2006 at 7:02 am

    This was on SE Today (BBC local news) on 1st August.

    There were comments about websites distributing this kind of stuff (and therefore encouraging “dangerous” stunts) being prosecuted…….

  8. edd said,

    August 2, 2006 at 8:35 am

    Looks like the boys in blue have got involved on this one.

  9. Ben Goldacre said,

    August 2, 2006 at 9:35 am

    from the BBC site:

    ‘Lethal’ playground stunt blasted. A park stunt in which two girls were thrown from a roundabout powered by a moped is being investigated by police….The roundabout eventually reaches a speed of about 20mph (32km/h) and the girls, believed to be 12 or 13 years old, are flung off violently.”

    what do they mean it “reaches a speed of 20mph”? which bit? the outermost edge? the outermost point of the girls in the middle? i demand a meaningful rotational velocity. or alternatively a G force.

  10. Sid said,

    August 2, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    I think they meant the estimate speed of take-off I assume…

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  12. Mem said,

    November 13, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    the video doen’t work