The Magnus Force

Heinrich Gustav Magnus (1802-1870) 

Gustav Magnus explained the Magnus force for the first time in 1853. The Magnus effect is commonly used to explain the often mysterious and commonly observed movements of spinning balls in sports like soccer, baseball tennis, table tennis, volleyball, golf and cricket. Also this force is considered in the external ballistic theory with applications in (bullets flight, paintball and BB guns). 

How does the Magnus Effect work?

Do you remember the boundary layer described in The Baseball Flight ? As the spinning ball moves through the air it will create a pressure difference between its two sides according the Bernoulli effect. The interaction between the air layer on the side of the ball that rotates in the opposite direction of the ball movement and the surrounding air creates a low-pressure area. This will “suck” the ball and curve its trajectory.

Watch this video explaining the Magnus force.You can even try to replicate these experiments.

This funny video will teah you how the Magnus force can alter the flight of a toilet paper tube. 

Return from The Magnus Force to Aerodynamics in Sports 


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