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Loop of Death

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Published on Mar 10, 2009

This was a project that CBU's Society of Physics Students did on our own time. During a meeting last fall, Ted Clarke, a new physics professor, mentioned that the U of M was throwing out a giant Loop De Loop that had fallen into disrepair and he salvaged it for us to restore. Why Dr. Varriano and the rest of us were eager to get to work on it, the engineering lab where we stored it (St. Benilde) and its wonderful supervisors and Work-studies rebuilt the thing in a week.

We did the math on this thing before the first few tests and figured out that the ball had to fall from about 15 ft above the bottom edge of the loop, and that just so happened to be where the balcony to the Thomas Center is, so we figured that this would make a great public demonstration.

As for the bit about the basketball, it fell on my head 2 out of 3 test runs when we tested the loop with it. We were demonstrating the need for friction on the ball, but it's lightweight nature lowered the normal force, reducing its friction on the rails and making it lose energy. The 8-pound bowling ball we use makes up for this when duct tape is applied.

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