50' chain of beads leaps and cavorts its way out of a jar

Steve Mould, Britain's Brightest's "science guy," showed that if you put coil a 50' chain of magnets in a jar and then casually toss out one end, the whole chain goes berzerk leaps and cavorts like an innocent colt on crystal meth, defying gravity and gravitas. In this video, Earth Unplugged gets Steve to explain what's really happening.

Amazing bead chain experiment in slow motion - Slo Mo #19 - Earth Unplugged (via IO9)

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  1. These do not appear to be magnets. Looks more like the kind of beaded chain you'd find connected to a pen at the bank.

  2. Sorry to keep pointing out errors in your posts today Cory - no offense intended.

    Little wordfart here: "if you put coil"

    And like Dean said - where are you getting the idea these are magnets?

    Finally, I was hoping to see the io9 post that brought this to your attention, but that Via link only goes to the site's front page. Here's the actual link: http://io9.com/this-is-the-bead-chain-experiment-its-about-to-melt-y-602029455

    Aha - now I see - io9 got it wrong about the magnets, too.

  3. jgs says:

    Doing what Steve Mould suggests in his original article (search eBay for 'metal 4.5mm bead chain') reveals that you, too, can stop wishing and have your very own 50 m of beaded chain for the (not so) low low price of £1.95 per metre (or less; that's the first hit). Big jar left as an exercise for the reader.

  4. So, no magnets, not a coil, and a colt who is doing meth is no longer innocent...

  5. Why is this weird?

    Don't get me wrong - it looked weird to me at first. I watched the slo-mo and thought "It's like it knows where the edge of the beaker is, and it's avoiding it". But I thought for a bit, and using the same arguments that the Science Guy did, reasoned that (a) the chain must be initially going up at pretty much the same rate as the bit outside is going down (b) it would need a pretty hard tug to get it moving that fast (c) the chain can only apply a force along its length, so it must move in an arc for the tension to change it from going up to going down without any other forces. Long story short: it would be surprising if it didn't do something like this.

    Think about gyroscopes. Common sense can be pretty rubbish at times.

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