Inertia Ring – Sick Science! #195



See the full experiment here:

Do you think you can successfully perform the Steve Spangler Science inertia challenge? Balance a yellow ring on the mouth of an empty 1 or 2 liter bottle and place a hex nut or other heavy object on top of the ring. When the yellow ring is removed, the hex nut will drop straight into the bottle. It might take a little bit of practice, but you’ll get it. Inertia rings are a perfect tool for introducing students to physics, motion, and inertia.

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  1. Pushing outside of the ring displaces the top of the ring upward generating a normal force against the bottom of the nut thereby resulting in frictional force horizontally, while tugging on the inside of the ring deforms the ring and displaces the top downward and eliminates contact therefore normal force on the nut and possibility of any energy transfer from the ring(if you disregard air molecules). The nut just free falls straight down

  2. Clearly it is necessary to pull the ring from the inside because if you don't then the ring will never move from under the nuts and they will just sit on top of it.  Duhh!!

    /end sarcasm

  3. It's "Push" vs. "Pull"
    If you hit it from outside, the shock wave will travel along its circumference, pushing the ring as it does – This will vertically expand the ring at the center and will dislodge the nuts before the ring has shifted from its position

    However, if you hit it on the inside, the leading edge of the ring starts travelling first and pulls the rest of the ring behind it… this means the ring will get vertically compressed, causing the nuts to fall straight down. 

    In that sense, technically this is not an example of Inertia – it's just an object falling under gravity because the floor got pulled out from below it. The tablecloth and dishes example seems more about inertia – the inertia of the dishes overcomes the friction between them and the cloth being pulled from under it.

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