Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fun with physics - A self-siphoning chain fountain

Back in a school science class you might have learned that a rubber tube can be used to siphon liquid from one beaker to another, as is shown above. Or, your dad might have  shown you how to siphon gas from the tank of your car to refill a gas can for a lawnmower, motorcycle, or boat.

But, watch what happens when you pull the end of a bead chain over the edge of a beaker, as shown in this video by Steve Mould. Surprisingly the chain rises above the rim as a fountain, like it’s inside an invisible tube.

This behavior was explained by John S. Biggins and Mark Warner in a scientific article and on a 12-minute YouTube video. I saw it discussed in a New York Times article on March 3, 2014.   

The image of a siphon is from Wikimedia Commons.

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