The Gravity Defying Chain

This 'bead fountain' video has gone viral in the last few weeks with scientists and engineers alike struggling to agree upon just what's going on, and what is causing this strange phenomenon. Take a quick look at this 50m chain of beads that are all connected seemingly defy gravity as they flow upwards before plummeting to the ground.

Got an explanation? Share yours below.

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Courtesy of the Nature news team

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This is not a trick I have done the same but on a smaller scale with some plastic beads bonded onto a string which was bought as a christmas tree decoration. I think it is like a whiplash effect, the faster the rope falls the faster it pulls the beads from the tube but it has to turn through 180 degrees and centrifugal forces come into play. As the beads going down get faster the beads coming out go faster and so accelaration, deceleration and enertia must all play a part. Weird eh!

Comment Andy Roberts, 15/09/2014
If it is a trick than someone is holding a magnet at the top of the screen which is not taken in the video. balance between magnetic force and gravity/weight of chain is so set that chain seems defying gravity. but if it happened by property of beads than its amazing and think of the chain hanging around a pin on a wall. shall it make a pmm?.

Comment Vikas gaur, 06/03/2014
When the chain falls over the side of the jar it is pulled vertically out of the jar. When the end of the falling chain is at rest (on the floor) the column of chain above will reduce the rate of fall and the chains rate of acceleration out of the jar may (does) at some point exceed the downward acceleration. The change of direction would then rise until a state of equilibrium is reached.

Comment Barrie Jones, 14/02/2014
No magnets, it is actually a travelling wave, but the media is moving, so it stays in the same place.

Comment Charles, 06/02/2014
I am with the air stream argument. Looks to me like a high pressure feed up through the tube. This would explain the little upward loops that appear every now and then, eg at 0.10 mins. I wondered why the persons hand came in so slowly then was whipped away quickly. My guess is that they were waiting for the air stream to be turned on. I wondered as well what the little paper butterfly thing was on the end of the chain - was their first idea to have it self start, but the chain proved too heavy to lift with the air?
Also if you watch right to the end, the bottom row seem to lift slightly as the weight of the chain above is removed.


Comment Peter, 27/01/2014
Beads threaded on a string. View chosen to make it look like flowing upwards. Camera positioned above jar and jar is horizontal not vertical. So natural pour out of jar looks like upward motion.

Comment Mike, 22/01/2014
I agree with Bryan - there is an upward vertical air jet pulling the string out of the jar.

You would hear it if there was a sound track ...

Neat trick


Comment John Moran, 21/01/2014
I think it was done in a descending lift.

Comment Denis Dalby, 21/01/2014
We have some Christmas tree decorations like that, which are non-metallic balls threaded on a string and are very flexible. Imagine the chain passes over a pulley, then once the free end becomes lower than the jar, gravity would cause all the beads to flow out of the jar, just like syphoning water in a pipe.
OK, there's no pulley, but how about an upward air stream?


Comment Bryan Johnson, 21/01/2014
If it were magnetic, I would expect the agglomerate to stick in a complex field pattern that would prevent this behavior .

If linked by a cord, then we would get a pattern of impulse, followed by slight lag and then the next bead reponds. So we have an energy transfer that "pulses" each bead, giving rise to a succession of upward impulses.

Obviously without more detailed info, I'm guessing but it seems credible?


Comment andrew daton-lovett, 21/01/2014
I assume these are NdFeB magnets acting like a "slinky" spring and dropping to a lower potential but as they are moving in a magnetic field they will be generating a current which is being repelled by the field of the waiting magnets. How the magnets don't stick together in the tube before being pulled off has got me scratching my head!

Comment Richard Bointon, 21/01/2014
I think they are connected on via a wire. Saw this a few days ago. Can't explain it, but I reckon it's some effect of inertia and probably because that is the most the wire can bend it carries the beads up in the arc... at a guess of course.

Comment Peter - Liverpool, 21/01/2014
How are the beads connected? Are they beads magnetic? are they made from a ferrous material?
I cannot explain but will mention that there is potential energy stored and the gravity forces the beads to fall, the ball chain appears to be transferring some of this energy upwards along the chain. Or is it a trick!!!


Comment Jon, 21/01/2014
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