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What A Slinky Knows and the Hydro-illogical Cycle

By   /  April 1, 2013  /  Comments Off on What A Slinky Knows and the Hydro-illogical Cycle

What can a slinky tell us about how to survive drought? RadioLab explains why a slinky can “hover” and we explain how to combine that information with the Hydro-illogical cycle to plan for and get through dry spells and drought.

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Here's a link to the RadioLab podcast AND a GREAT video showing the slinky effect in action (with a scientist explaining how it works.)  It even has a written summary in case you don't have 14 minutes to listen to the podcast.

Here’s a link to the RadioLab podcast AND a GREAT video showing the slinky effect in action (with a scientist explaining how it works.) It even has a written summary in case you don’t have 14 minutes to listen to the podcast. And notice the goat on the earth and the parachuting cows in the RadioLab header.  They must be on our side!

We all know about gravity and how it keeps things firmly attached to the earth.  And we’ve all experienced what happens when we’re climbing over a fence and somehow manage to trip and fall.  When that happens to us, we wish we could hover for a moment so we could get our feet under us before gravity yanks us to the ground.  But physics doesn’t provide for hovering.

Or does it?  Last September, RadioLab posted a podcast about “What A Slinky Knows” describing what happens when you drop a slinky.  Here’s the experiment instructions from their blog post if you have a slinky and would like to try this at home:

1) Dangle a Slinky above the ground as though you were holding a fish by the tip of its tail.

2) Let it extend to its full length.

3) Let go.

For a fraction of a second, something amazing happens: the bottom of slinky hovers in midair, seeming to defy the laws of physics, while the top collapses toward it.

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About the author

editor and contributor

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.

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