Magnus Effect

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Putting a little bit of spin on an object can have a big aerodynamic effect, thanks to the Magnus effect. As demonstrated in the video above, backspin on a basketball dropped from a big height will send it flying out and away. The reason spinning objects generate these counterintuitive motions is because the air flow over them creates differential pressures. On the side of the ball spinning with the flow, air is accelerated, dropping the local pressure; whereas on the opposite side, the ball spinning against the direction of flow makes the flow separate and no longer flow smoothly along that side. This causes a high pressure on that side. Like the difference in pressure on either side of an airfoil, the pressure difference across the ball creates a force that pushes the ball toward the low pressure side. Check out some of the other places Magnus effect shows up!  (Video credit: Veritasium; submitted by Andrew C.)


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