Understand the trick that allows players to do magic with the ball

Have you heard about the Magnus Effect? You may have never heard of it, but surely you have seen it in action. In fact, you probably scratched your head and wondered, “ How is it possible? ”After witnessing the effect being performed! Much used by soccer players - and other sports as well - it's the one that allows the stars to do magic with the ball, as you can see below:

The Magnus Effect, named after the German scientist Heinrich Gustav Magnus, basically refers to the physical phenomenon in which the trajectory of a spherical or cylindrical object through a fluid - water or air - is affected by its rotation.

In fact, the effect is the result of several phenomena - including the Bernoulli Principle - and it depends on the speed of rotation of the object as well as the amount of air it drags while rotating. Also, the smoother the surface of the object, the less intense the effect will be. Here's another demo video below:

* You can enable automatic subtitles in Portuguese in the video menu, but as the translation is not legal, we have included a description below.

The video was produced by the Veritasium YouTube channel staff, and the basketball demonstration took place from the top of the 126.5 meter high Gordon Dam in Tasmania, Australia. As you saw, the boys first let go of the ball without spinning it, letting it fall freely. And the ball, despite being slightly deflected by the action of the wind, follows a more or less straight path until it reaches the ground.

Then, before the ball is released again, the boys make it spin slightly backwards, and the ball will stop far away! According to the explanation of the video, the ball does this because, as it gains speed, the air that passes in the front moves in the same direction in which it is spinning and therefore ends up being deflected towards the back of the ball.

Already in the back of the ball, the air moves in the opposite direction of the ball, causing the air flow to separate instead of being diverted. The result is that the ball pushes the air in one direction, and the air in turn applies the same force in the other direction, causing the ball to change its path.

Interestingly, according to Veritasium people, although the phenomenon was named after Heinrich Gustav Magnus - who described it in 1852 - Isaac Newton had already talked about the effect almost two centuries earlier, when he reported his observations on the flight of tennis balls at Cambridge University.

And the video goes on to explain that the Magnus Effect is super important in sports like football, tennis and golf, as well as having applications outside the sports world. One example mentioned is the boat you can see below, which has two cylindrical structures that look like giant chimneys:

These structures are called “Flettner Rotor” and replace the sails, causing the vessel to move forward thanks to the Magnus Effect. Another example is the airplane you can see below, which uses the same principle - having cylinders in place of wings. However, according to the video, although these structures generate more lifting force than traditional wings, they also created more drag, making flight impractical. Look:

That plane took off only once - and crashed! Luckily, there are some experiments currently underway: one involving an aircraft that uses the force generated by rotating the cylinders to fly, and the other involving a vessel that has four cylindrical structures to increase its efficiency and reduce fuel consumption.

Thus, according to the Veritasium people, it is possible that in the future the Magnus Effect will have more uses than simply allowing some sportsmen to do real magic with the ball. And out of curiosity, the boys didn't go to the dam to do aerodynamic experiments! In fact, they were there to try to break the highest basketball hoop record ever set - and it looks like they did it.

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