In #MESExperiments Part 5, I demonstrate one of the most little known properties of gyroscopes: they can precess with zero “centripetal force”. I demonstrate this by placing a super precision gyroscope on ice to limit any “friction” and just watch the gyroscope rise upwards while the ice cube hardly moves horizontally. In contrast, the “centripetal force” is evident in the case of an Olympic Hammer Throw in which the heavy ball on a chain requires great strength to “pull” the ball inwards as it is spun in a circle.
In my experiment, I placed the gyroscope on a plastic “shirt button” which was itself placed on a metal disc placed on the ice cube. I used this particular set up to provide a more stable base for the plastic button, while at the same time not restrict the rotational movement of the outer gyroscope casing and stem; this is done to allow the gyroscope to rise upwards. I will explain in detail in later videos, but it appears that the gyroscope’s ability to rise upwards requires that extremely low “rotational friction” is present at the point where the stem of the gyro contacts the base.
I initially place the gyroscope at approximately 40 degrees from the vertical and watch as it precesses gradually upwards, and with almost zero horizontal movement; i.e. zero “centripetal force”! What’s also interesting is the noise that the gyroscope makes as it precesses, which once fully risen almost fully and eerily disappears. Another fascinating observation is that the base, the ice cube, and the outer casing of the gyroscope and stem behave as a single unit and turn in unison. This “unison rotation” is at its peak rate when the gyroscope is perfectly vertical and rotates this way for a full 2 minutes with very little wobble!
As the gyroscope loses spin speed, the gyroscope begins to precess again but this time the ice cube gradually moves horizontally in a circular fashion that spirals outwards as the gyroscope precession angle drops and the spin rate lowers. In other words, the “centripetal force” could be said to magically appear. Where was it in the first place??! At even lower spin speeds and very steep angles, the gyroscope precesses in a large circle but still in amazing gyro-typical control! But even then, how can the “Centripetal Force” manage to move the ice cube in large circles, yet not even knock off the gyroscope completely off the base? I am of the view that to adequately answer this we need to completely re-examine the very notion of “centripetal force”, because in my view the current mainstream understanding is fundamentally incomplete.
Now what to make of these findings? I have spent the great deal of time going over experiment after experiment to get the perfect video to fully demonstrate these little known properties of gyroscopes. But this was mainly to remove all doubt as to what our eyes have been telling us all along when simply balancing a precessing gyroscope on our fingertip, but if only we had the mind to comprehend…
Stay Tuned for #MESExperiments Number 6...
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