Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox.   SUBSCRIBE
The Kid Should See This

Hydrodynamic Levitation

Light balls, disks, and cylinders will levitate on a stream of water in a surprisingly off-center way. In this episode of Veritasium, Derek Muller teams up with Blake from InnoVinci, with some help from aerospace engineer Nicole Sharp, to film and figure out the physics behind this trick:

The standard Bernoulli effect relies on the object being completely immersed in the upward-flowing fluid. But in this case the water seems to form a single stream around the object and it’s deflected away and down from the stream. By Newton’s third law, the force on the water by the ball is equal and opposite to the force of the water back on the ball, pushing it up into the stream. There is a stable equilibrium position because if the ball moves into the stream, it “cuts off” the water going over the ball so it drifts out. If it drifts out too far, then lots of water passes over the ball, pushing it back into the stream.

Next: Surprising Applications of the Magnus Effect, The Physics Behind a Curveball, Electromagnetic Levitation Quadcopter, and more levitation.

Plus, more backyard physics experiments: How to make Leonardo da Vinci’s self-supporting bridge and The Stacked Ball Drop (and Supernovas).

This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.

Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

Inside the Svalbard Seed Vault

Rion Nakaya

Veritasium: How Far Away is the Moon?

Rion Nakaya

Making Artificial Earthquakes with a Four-Tonne Steel Ball

Rion Nakaya

Electromagnetic Levitation Quadcopter

Rion Nakaya

The Hammer-Feather Drop in the world’s biggest vacuum chamber

Rion Nakaya

The surprising interactions between copper and neodymium magnets

Rion Nakaya

Argonne National Laboratory: Acoustic levitation

Rion Nakaya

2,000 ping pong balls and 30 middle-school teachers in Zero G

Rion Nakaya

Calculating Pi (π) with Darts

Rion Nakaya