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Basketballs Make Great Gliders

Buried deep in the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (actually, on page 3-4), you'll find the lift producing principle "Magnus Effect." Discovered in 1852 by Heinrich Gustav (possibly by heaving basketballs off a tall dam), it shows that a rotating cylinder moving through a fluid - like air - generates lift.

Because of the fluid's viscosity and friction, the cylinder's rotation speeds up over the top of the cylinder and slows down below the cylinder. And, through Bernoulli's infamous principle, that means the air pressure below the cylinder is higher than the pressure above the cylinder.

We'd make a video about it, but Veritasium already has. Check it out, and check out his channel. It'll bring you back to the days of 3-2-1 Contact...

Aleks Udris

Aleks is a Boldmethod co-founder and technical director. He's worked in safety and operations in the airline industry, and was a flight instructor and course manager for the University of North Dakota. You can reach him at

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