A couple of days ago, I came across the bottle flippin' meme which hit the streets in May this year. A school kid is shown fooling about taking the piss of the 'intense concentration' and 'psyching self up' that we had a surfeit of a couple months later in the Rio Olympics. All the prep results in him making a half-empty bottle of water make one complete revolution and . . . land on its base and stay upright. It was eventually [02 Nov 16] reported in Wikipedia which pointed out that the trick was driving schools and families insane and was being banned wholesale. But that article also suggested that there was a lot of science in mastering the trick; including the concepts of fluid dynamics, angular momentum, centripetal force, and gravity. The physics was quickly explained in an article on Vox. Now I failed my physics "O" Level, so these words make me feel a) inadequate b) weak at the knees. But I know how science works and I dashed off an e-mail to my colleague who is down with the Physics, suggesting some science experiments our guys could do.
- What is the best shape bottle to achieve success?
- What proportion of air vs water is optimum?
- Is bigger better than smaller?
- Will a denser liquid of the same volume work better?
- Different percentages of dissolved glucose?
- how many replicates do you have patience for?
- how many will allow you to say with confidence that 56 grams of water is better than 112 g?
- I give ounces = 28g here in deference to American readers
- should you retain the same flipper through all the trials?
- are some people better at this task than others?
- should you worry that your 56g trials preceded your 112g (training etc.)?
I asked them if they were aware of bottle flippin'
I then asked them if they did it themselves
"Not so much"
One of the students said she hadn't heard about it and there was a half empty water bottle on the bench and I showed her what to do. The berluddy thang almost stayed upright: my street cred was up only half a point [for trying]. That night I visiting a family with a 17 y.o. girl and she said it was a boy thing. Nobody in her all-girls school could be bothered. No bottle, those girls! It may seem daft to spend your time doing something so clearly without value, but to take anything on-board in a committed and sustained way is, I suggest, a Good Thing. It's good for morale. If every day and in every way I am getting better at [bottle-flipping; nintendo; lacrosse; scything; drumming; paper airplanes] then that will bleed into my Maths, my Irish Grammar, my Physics.
And all over the world people are pushing the flippin' envelope: citior, altior, fortior - bottle flipping is, on the face of it, no sillier than triple jump or dressage.