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Suspended bottle experiment

You will need:

 
  • A Coke bottle or any other plastic screw top bottle (the smaller the better)
  • Uncooked Rice
  • A pencil or chopstick or any other straight rod

    Copyright notice

    rice

     

Instructions

 
  1. Fill the bottle with uncooked rice.
     
  2. Plunge the pencil straight down into the bottle.
     
  3. Try to lift the bottle just by the pencil. Doesn't work too well...
     
  4. Now try plunging the pencil in and out at least 30 - 40 times for compaction.
     
  5. Can you now lift the bottle off the table just using the pencil? Why does this work?

    Rice bottle lift
     
  6. This experiment is worth running over a large bowl in case to catch any mess!
Troubleshooting 
Doesn't work? Try putting the pencil into the rice at different heights each time.

Why does this work?


The more contact between two surfaces, the great the friction. When you push the pencil in and out of the rice you are slowly compacting the rice and pushing air out of the container. This means that more and more rice gets in contact with your pencil which slowly but surely increases the friction between the rice and the pencil. Eventually there is so much friction you can lift the rice-filled jar or bottle into the air as the frictional forces are greater than the force of gravity.

Other friction experiment: Skewer through a balloon
 
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