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A Flipping Bad Idea

Or, how one wing nut can spoil a whole bunch of space movies.

There’s a weird looking effect created by some spinning objects in micro-gravity. It was first documented by a Russian cosmonaut, and it was a guarded secret for a while. That was then, and, well, there’s social media now. Not as much stays secret as conspiracy nuts would have you believe; and certainly not this interesting quirk of physics.

Once you see the effect, you can imagine what would happen to a lot of sci-fi film space station ideas. Horrific is not a word to be thrown around lightly. It would fit here, if a station could survive construction and then be induced to spin.

Here’s a great video by Veritasium

that gives you a good sketch of the physics involved. Wing Nuts, Tennis Rackets, a Soviet Secret—it’s all there. Prepare to have your mind expanded, or completely blown. It could go either way.


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