Students Preparing a Changing Earth

Mind-Bending Science: Self Siphoning Beads

Of course we know that science can be mysterious, but Steve Mould has a demonstration that will surely leave you flabbergasted. In his video, he takes a jar of ordinary beads you would find on some office blinds or a necklace, and watches them come alive as they mysteriously jump out of the jar. Warning: There is a spoiler, and a slo-mo, in the read more section.

This phenomena owes its spectacular action to gravity. According to BBC’s Earth Unplugged where Mould gave his explanation for the process, the magic happens because of the differing weights on either side of the container.

In the container rests most of the beads and a string with little weight leading to the rim, but as the rest of the beads spill over the rim, they accumulate a greater force due to their length and speed. The greater weight pulling on the outside of the container causes the inside string to seemingly ‘pour’ out as if it were alive. This pouring continues until all 50 meters of beads are sucked from the container.

Self-Siphoning BeadsThe reason for the wacky waves you can see as it makes the bend is apparently the speed change as the string transitions to a downward descent. In order to change from upward motion to a downward fall without violating Newton’s 2nd law, the chain must bend strangely above the lip of the container. As you can see, when he holds it higher above his head, the loop created as the direction changes is even larger.

All of this sciency gobblety-gook isn’t what’s so amazing about this, however. Simply watching the snake of beads jump out of the beaker evokes an irresistible sense of curiosity and wonder. And this is the nature of science: We don’t know why something happens, but we’re curious to find out.

But in layman’s terms, this is badass science.

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