Crazy tic tac bounce!? | EVERYDAY MYSTERIES | Summary and Q&A

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May 3, 2018
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Physics Girl
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Crazy tic tac bounce!? | EVERYDAY MYSTERIES

TL;DR

Tic Tacs sometimes bounce higher on the second bounce, and this phenomenon is explained by the shape of the Tic Tacs and the conservation of energy.

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Key Insights

  • 💩 Tic Tacs sometimes bounce higher on the second bounce due to their elongated shape, which allows them to start spinning when they hit the table.
  • ✋ The rotational energy of the Tic Tacs reduces their potential energy, causing them to not bounce as high on the next bounce.
  • 👻 When the Tic Tacs stop spinning, the released rotational energy allows them to bounce higher again.

Transcript

DIANNA COWERN: Thanks to Lockheed Martin for supporting PBS Digital Studios. Hey, I'm Dianna. And you're watching Physics Girl. Ever tried bouncing Tic Tacs into a cup? Bouncing Tic Tacs into a cup is hard. Some might say strangely hard. See, I was in the best state the other day to come across an everyday mystery, when I noticed something strange.... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Why do Tic Tacs sometimes bounce higher on the second bounce?

The elongated shape of Tic Tacs allows them to start spinning when they hit the table on one side, which gives them rotational energy. This rotational energy reduces their potential energy, causing them to not bounce as high on the next bounce. However, when they stop spinning, the rotational energy is released, allowing them to bounce higher again.

Q: How did they determine that Tic Tacs start spinning when they bounce?

High-speed footage filmed with a Phantom camera at 1,000 frames per second showed that Tic Tacs start rotating quickly when there is a low balance. This confirmed that the shape of the Tic Tacs plays a role in their bouncing behavior.

Q: Can Tic Tacs bounce higher than the height they were dropped from?

Yes, it is possible for Tic Tacs to bounce higher than the height they were dropped from by imparting a little spin when they are dropped. This extra rotational energy can be converted into more translational kinetic energy, allowing them to reach a higher height on the next bounce.

Q: How is energy conserved in the bouncing of Tic Tacs?

Energy is conserved in the bouncing of Tic Tacs. When they are dropped, they initially have potential energy, which is then converted into kinetic energy as they fall. When they hit the table, some energy is converted into heat, which is lost. However, the rotational energy gained during the first bounce is released during subsequent bounces, allowing the Tic Tacs to reach a higher height.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Tic Tacs sometimes bounce higher on the second bounce, which is unusual compared to other round balls.

  • The elongated shape of Tic Tacs allows them to start spinning when they hit the table on one side, creating a torque that gives them rotational energy.

  • The rotational energy takes away from their potential energy, causing them to not bounce as high on the next bounce, but when they stop spinning, the rotational energy is released, allowing them to bounce higher again.

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