Leave most objects on top of a turntable, and set it spinning, and they’ll fly off in short order. Do the same with a ball, though, and it somehow manages to roll around on top for quite some time without falling off. [Steve Mould] set about unpacking this “Turntable Paradox” in a recent YouTube video.
In the basic case, the fact that the ball rolls is what keeps it on the turntable. As the turntable spins, the ball spins in the opposite direction, as per Newton’s first law of motion. As long as the ball is allowed to roll up to the same speed as the turntable, it will pretty much stay in place in the absence of any other perturbing forces. In the event the ball is nudged along the turntable, though, it quickly ends up in a more complicated circular motion, orbiting in a ratio to the speed of the turntable itself. [Steve] explains the mechanisms at play, and dives into the mathematics behind what’s going on.
Sometimes, demonstrations like these can seem like mere curiosities. However, understanding physical effects like these has been key to the development of all kinds of complicated and fantastical machinery. Video after the break.