How to make a "snail ball" that rolls very slowly down an incline

Originally published at: How to make a "snail ball" that rolls very slowly down an incline | Boing Boing

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Besides it being an demo of counterintuitive behavior, is there any practical uses of this?

Hm, what if you filled the rollers on, say, one of those conveyors that baggage handlers use to offload airplanes? I doubt the handlers would like it since they are trying to unload ASAP but other “rolling conveyor” type ramps where you don’t want the conveyed item to accelerate too fast could use this method.

Regarding the airplane conveyors, I’m sure there is fill-level/viscosity point where you could slow the items down but not so slow that it would delay off load.

Edit: There are probably better way to achieve the same effect than molasses filled rollers. Like simple bearings with dragging friction adjustment. Or a coil spring that builds tension as it rolls (and then releases once the item is clear). Wouldn’t be as sticky and bitter-sweet though.

How about a ball with oobleck, rolling down a bumpy surface that’ll briefly jar the oobleck into solidity?


Missing are the details of how you make the “fast” ball match weight. I would assume if you put the weighted ball in the center on small pegs, and still fill with molasses, it should match, but that seems tedious.

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“So I have here two balls of equal weight and volume.”

No you don’t.

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Reminds me of an incline plane or gravity clock. Close enough to a practical use? Maybe.

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