Magnus Effect Powers Cylindrical Wings and Curveballs

Watch a basketball fall for 25 seconds thanks to the “Magnus Effect”

The Magnus Effect is one of the lesser-known physical principals, but if you have been paying attention you’d see it all the time in everyday life. If you have ever seen a golf-ball take a major hook or a slice, you’ve seen the Magnus effect in action. If you have ever seen a soccer player hook a ball into the goal from the corner, you have witnessed the Magnus Effect. Have you ever seen a baseball pitcher throw a sinker, that drops to the plate at the last minute? Yup, the Magnus effect.



Magnus Effect Powers Cylindrical Wings and CurveballsThe Magnus effect is when a round object effectively “grips” the passing air, using it to change its trajectory. The video above is a perfect illustration of the effect in action. They drop a basketball form 400+ feet into a ravine. Without backspin the ball falls like a “knuckleball” pitch, in a jittery, random path that is at the mercy of wind and turbulence. When a little backspin in applied, the ball cuts through the air and takes a forward-path. It covers a lot of ground!

What’s more amazing is the other applications of the Magnus effect. There was once an airplane with horizontal cylinders, instead of wings! The cylinders would spin and thus create lift, unfortunately, they also create a lot of drag (it crashed and burned)! There is now a design for an ocean liner, called the E-Ship 1, which uses vertical cylinders as a means of propulsion, powered by the Magnus effect!



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Adam Beck

Director of Marketing at CADENAS PARTsolutions | A Marketing graduate from the Miami University, Farmer School of Business in Oxford Ohio, Adam has years of experience in marketing and design for a variety of industries.