Discovered by German physicist Helen Sperl in 1891, popularized in 1950 by Danish engineer Werner Ostberg, and demonstrated here by Grand Illusions‘ Tim Rowett, this is a Tippe Top. Watch as it spins “at a high angular velocity,” turning itself upside down to spin on its stem. But wait, there’s more…
The interesting thing is that when the Tippe Top inverts, it also changes the direction of the rotation! In other words, at some point during the inversion, the top stops spinning around the axis through the stem and then starts to rotate the other way. At the same time, the center of mass is lifted, and the top is thus a quite interesting problem concerning conservation of energy and angular momentum.
There’s more physics and toy videos in the archives, including another from Grand Illusions: the Spiraculum.
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