It is common in science for two phenomena to appear to be very different, but in fact follow from the same basic principles. Here we consider such a case, the connection between the chain fountain and a bullet-block collision experiment. When an upward moving bullet strikes a wooden block resting on a horizontal table, the block will rise to a higher height when the bullet strikes near the end of the block. This is because the quickly rotating block experiences an additional upward “reaction” force from its contact with the table. Such a reaction force also explains the chain fountain. When a chain falls from a pile in a container to the floor below, the chain rises up above the container. This rise occurs because the quickly rotating links in the container push off of the surface beneath them. We derive a model that accurately describes our measurements in the bullet-block experiment, and then use this same model to calculate an approximate expression for the distance the chain rises above the container. More extensive discussions of the chain fountain are available elsewhere.
Skip Nav Destination
PAPERS| May 01 2018
A Bullet-Block Experiment that Explains the Chain Fountain
Phys. Teach. 56, 294–297 (2018)
J. Pantaleone, R. Smith; A Bullet-Block Experiment that Explains the Chain Fountain. Phys. Teach. 1 May 2018; 56 (5): 294–297. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.5033872
Download citation file: