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Man Tries Backflip in Elevator, Learns Painful Physics Lesson Halfway Through

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A video making the rounds on Facebook shows a man trying to complete a backflip in a glass elevator.

The video, posted to Ebaum’s World Facebook page, garnered over 2,000,000 views in only a few days.

Halfway through the flip, we get a front row seat to a painful demonstration of Newton’s Second Law.

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones — and people in moving glass elevators shouldn’t do back flips.

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The reason for this has to do with basic laws of motion.

The physics of a backflip requires a stationary surface to work properly. It takes the human body a substantial amount of energy to execute a flip, with the majority of it being used for the moment of inertia, or the actual force required to execute a spin.

In the video below, the moment of inertia begins at the 15 second mark. He rapidly begins to spin, moving his feet in position for a landing.

Was this a stupid stunt?

The force of this is comparable to a figure skater pulling her arms inward. The energy expended pulling in the arms and legs greatly increases the speed of the spin.

In the video below, this is demonstrated by Guinness World Record holder Natalia Kanounnikova who hits 308 revolutions per minute by pulling her arms and legs inward. The speed is dizzying.

The man in the elevator may have had the force necessary to perform a flip, but the movement of the elevator is a factor he had not properly calculated.

Newton’s Second Law explains that the velocity of an object changes only when it is subject to an outside force. The moment his feet left the elevator floor, he was no longer being given direct upwards force. You can see his upward motion begin to slow, and the elevator catches up to him with disastrous results.

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With a strong enough jump or a slow enough elevator it is entirely possible for a backflip to be executed perfectly. From the force of the impact, however, this guy looks like he won’t be trying it again anytime soon.

Do you think this guy regrets trying this in front of the internet? Let us know on Facebook!

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Jared has written more than 200 articles and assigned hundreds more since he joined The Western Journal in February 2017. He was an infantryman in the Arkansas and Georgia National Guard and is a husband, dad and aspiring farmer.
Jared has written more than 200 articles and assigned hundreds more since he joined The Western Journal in February 2017. He is a husband, dad, and aspiring farmer. He was an infantryman in the Arkansas and Georgia National Guard. If he's not with his wife and son, then he's either shooting guns or working on his motorcycle.
Location
Arkansas
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Military, firearms, history




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