Spinning Straws

SciCast film goes here

If you're reading this text, try visiting http://scicast.org.uk/films/2007/11/spinning-straws.html directly. If you're already there you probably need to update Flash

  • Currently 0/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
(votes cast: 0)
License: Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike Spinning Straws SciCast Workshop
Views: 1957
09 Nov, 2007


A ridiculously simple way of looking like a complete loon… that also keeps physicists talking for hours.

Director's Notes:

This film was conceived, filmed, and edited in under 90 minutes, during a SciCast seminar day in Southampton. Could it be done better with a bit more time? Sure. But is it ‘good enough’? Absolutely!

Filming how to put the straws together was the most time-consuming part — the combination of keeping the presenter’s hands out of the way and seeing enough detail of the fiddly part, while also showing the dog-leg arrangement of the straws, took some working out. If it seems smooth and simple, that’s a testament to the film-makers.

The physics going on here is quite subtle, too. When you blow through the straws, the arrangement spins around. That much seems obvious. But what happens when you suck? Why?

Try it and see if you’re right.

SciCast Notes:

Part of the point of the recent SciCast Seminars was to convince participants that making films needn’t be a hugely time-consuming process. This film was one of those made against a very tight deadline, and I’m delighted with it.

In particular, the slow zoom out during the make sequence keeps all the action in view without being distracting. For me, I could have done with it being even slower, but that’s hard to achieve without full-on professional camera equipment.

I also like the way the film starts off straightforwardly — heck, it’s even a bit boring — but rewards your attention with a ‘how far can he go?’ ending. Nicely done.

— Jonathan