The effect is as astonishing as it is hypnotic: a chain of metal beads magically arcs above its container as the beads fall to the ground. The beads in the video, made by Steve Mould, who hosts several BBC science shows, are not magnetic, either.
Pretty cool, huh?
Mould gives us an explanation the video below, which offers a super slow-motion view of the effect. In a nutshell, the gravity-defying effect is the result of inertia: the beads moving out of the glass cannot instantaneously change momentum to follow the beads falling down. Instead, they gradually change course and assume a curved path out of the glass. Notice the little standing-wave kink that forms on occasion, too.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Philip Yam is the managing editor of ScientificAmerican.com, responsible for the overall news content online. He began working at the magazine in 1989, first as a copyeditor and then as a features editor specializing in physics. He is the author of The Pathological Protein: Mad Cow, Chronic Wasting and Other Prion Diseases.