An impressive ping-pong ball cannon can be made by placing a bottle of liquid nitrogen at the bottom of a container and quickly covering it with, say, 1500 ping-pong balls. The liquid turns rapidly into a gas whose mounting pressure explodes the bottle, sending a swarm of balls upward out of the container. Surprisingly, the container also moves upward. This is a counterintuitive effect because the balance of forces, that is, Newton's third law does not seem to allow the container to move upwards. We explain the effect as a consequence of granular jamming in combination with Coulomb's friction law.

Supplementary Material

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