Watch this basketball fly thanks to the Magnus effect

The principal behind it can also be used to power ships

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The Independent Online

A video of a basketball being dropped from a dam is going viral today, thanks to a quirk of science causing it to take flight rather than fall.

The macro game of basketball took place at Gordon Dam in Tazmania, which stands at 415 feet.

The ball falls at first but then swoops and soars like a bird as it nears the ground:

"I literally just dropped it with a bit of spin, like, I didn't even throw it and it just took off, we had no idea it was going to do that," the guy who threw it said.

Here's an explanation of what's happening (the Magnus effect), from Veritasium:

'As the basketball picks up speed, air on the front side of the ball is going in the same direction as its spin and therefore it gets dragged along with the ball and deflected back.


"Air on the other side is moving opposite to the ball's spin so the flow separates from the ball instead of getting deflected.

"The net result is the ball pushes air one way so the air applies in equal force on the ball the other way, and this is known as the Magnus effect, named after Heinrich Gustav Magnuswho described it in 1852."

It is the same effect sportsmen exploit in tennis, soccer and golf to spin balls, just on a much bigger scale. It can also be used to propel boats and even planes (though not very well with the latter).

The ball throwers were at the dam to set a world record for the highest basketball shot, which looked like this: