LecDem Blog

Demonstration Highlight: Rotating Chair and Bicycle Wheel Gyroscope

Welcome back! This week we're visiting that ever-popular demonstration of conservation of angular momentum: the rotating chair and the bicycle wheel gyroscope, demo D3-05. You can see it in action in the video below, with physics student Dan Horstman. 

 When the user sits in the (stationary) chair with the wheel spinning and its axis oriented vertically, the wheel has an initial angular momentum. When they change the orientation of the wheel, this changes the direction of the wheel’s angular momentum; the human and chair now gain angular momentum opposite to the change in the wheel’s, so that the total angular momentum of the system stays constant.

 +1L (initial state of wheel) = -1L (flipped wheel) + 2L (rotating chair)

Because the friction in the bearing of the rotating chair is very low, several cycles of this procedure can usually be completed before the system loses its energy and stops.

This is the same underlying physics that lets gyroscopes be used to orient spacecraft, or to stabilize ships at sea. It can also be entertaining to watch someone try to carry a suitcase with a spinning gyroscope hidden in it, and watch it pull them sideways whenever they turn a corner!

 Demo D3-05: the rotating chair and the bicycle wheel


More Articles ...

  1. Demonstration Highlight: Pulleys and Mechanical Advantage
  2. STEM News Tip: Updates on Fall Webinars and Virtual Talks from Scientific Organizations
  3. Demonstration Highlight: Elastic and Inelastic Collisions
  4. Demonstration Highlight: Double Cone
  5. Demonstration Highlight: Focusing Heat
  6. STEM News Tip: Coming events
  7. On the Physics of Work
  8. Demonstration Highlight: Buoyancy
  9. STEM News Tip: Hurricane Ida
  10. Welcome to Fall 2021!
  11. Demonstration Highlight: Rotating Chair and Weights
  12. Demonstration Highlight: Electric Fields
  13. STEM News Tip: Donna Hammer wins Board of Regents Award
  14. Demonstration Highlight: Pendula of Different Masses
  15. STEM News Tip: Keep An Eye Out For Meteors This Month!
  16. Demonstration Highlight: Galileo's Pendulum
  17. STEM News Tip: UMD Tech Spin-Offs Highlighted
  18. STEM News Tip: APS Public Engagement Webinars This Week
  19. Demonstration Highlight: Chaotic Pendula
  20. STEM News Tip: AIP Reports on National Survey of High School Physics
  21. Demonstration Highlight: Charged Balloon
  22. STEM News Tip: AIP Celebrates 90th Anniversary This Month
  23. STEM News Tip: Prof. Alicia Kollár Receives NSF Award
  24. Happy 145th birthday to Harriet Brooks
  25. Demonstration Highlight: Hookes Law and SHM
  26. STEM News Tip: NASA STEM Stars Program
  27. STEM News Tip: Scientific American on the Future of Particle Physics
  28. Demonstration Highlight: Astro Blaster
  29. STEM News Tip: AIP TEAM-UP Webinar With Dr. Jami V Miller & Prof Kelly Nash
  30. Demonstrations Highlight: Lenz's Law
  31. STEM News Tip: NASA EPDC Outreach Programs
  32. STEM News Tip: Earth Observation Hackathon
  33. Profiles in Physics @ UMD: Prof. Manuel Franco Sevilla
  34. Demonstration Highlight: Inertia of a Lead Brick
  35. STEM News Tip: #BlackInAstro Week 2021
  36. STEM News Tip: New Research on the Physics of Viruses
  37. Demonstration Highlight: Laser Waterfall
  38. Celebrating the birthday of Chien-Shiung Wu
  39. Demonstration Highlight: Cosmic Ray Detector
  40. STEM News Tip: Eclipse Season
  41. STEM News Tip: Non-Newtonian Fluids for Cookout Season
  42. Happy Graduation!
  43. Demonstration Highlight: Coănda Effect
  44. STEM News Tip: Raman Spectroscopy for COVID-19 Testing
  45. STEM News Tip: NMAAHC on Experiences of African Americans in STEM
  46. STEM News Tip: Physics Today features classic article on computers in physics education
  47. Demonstration Highlight: Diffusion Distribution Models
  48. STEM News Tip: APS Begins Public Engagement Webinar Series
  49. STEM News Tip: KiNET-X Experiment Launches from Wallops Tonight
  50. Demonstration Highlight: Projectile Motion - Pellet and Falling Target
  51. UMD Physics Summer Programs 2021
  52. STEM News Tip: Prof. Buonanno elected to NAS
  53. Demonstration Highlight: Hill Track
  54. STEM News Tip: Physics Today interviews Shirley Ann Jackson
  55. Demonstration Highlight: Rotating Rings
  56. STEM News Tip: Earth Day 2021
  57. Demonstration Highlight: Tyndall's Experiment
  58. STEM News Tip: Atom interferometry in free fall
  59. Demonstration Highlight: Smoke Vortex
  60. Demonstration Highlight: Eddy Current Pendulum
  61. STEM News Tip: Measuring the gravitational force of tiny masses
  62. Demonstration Highlight: Plane Mirror
  63. STEM News Tip: The Physics of Music Recital Rooms
  64. Demonstration Highlight: Diameter and Circumference
  65. Demonstration Highlight: The Theremin
  66. STEM News Tip: Physics Today on Physicists & Mental Health in the Pandemic
  67. Demonstration Highlight: Centers of Mass
  68. STEM News Tip: Follow Along With Mars In March!
  69. Demonstration Highlight: Visible and Invisible Spectra
  70. Demonstration Highlight: Brass Barbell
  71. STEM News Tip: NASA's Mars 2020 Has Landed!
  72. Profiles in Physics @ UMD: Dr. Kate O'Neill
  73. Demonstration Highlight: Discharging capacitor
  74. STEM News Tip: This Week on Mars
  75. Demonstration Highlight: Simple Harmonic Motion Video
  76. STEM News Tip: Science Policy 2021
  77. Demonstration Highlight: Flame Tube
  78. UMD Research Commons workshops return for 2021
  79. STEM News Tip: TRAPPIST-1 Planets
  80. Demo Highlight: Funnel Cart
  81. STEM News Tip: Space Launch News
  82. STEM News Tip: Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard)
  83. Demo Highlight: Hydraulic Press
  84. STEM News Tip: NANOGrav and Low-Frequency Gravitational Waves
  85. Demo Highlight: Polarizers and Light Source
  86. STEM News Tip: AIP Oral History Interviews
  87. Demo Highlight: Newton's Cradle
  88. STEM News Tip: Phosphine and Venus Update: The Research Goes On
  89. A Festive Time: Happy Isaac Newton's Birthday
  90. STEM News Tip: Winter Solstice 2020
  91. Demo Highlight: Rolling vs. Sliding
  92. STEM News Tip: Space, Sun, Stones, and Streaming
  93. Demo Highlight: Suspended Slinky
  94. STEM News Tip: Geminids Meteors
  95. STEM News Tip: Physics Today Features Music & Acoustics for International Year of Sound
  96. STEM News Tip: National Math Festival Online
  97. Demo Highlight: Pendulum Length Ratio
  98. STEM News Tip: Arecibo Observatory to be Decomissioned
  99. Demonstration Highlight: Potential Well
  100. STEM News Tip: UMD Data Challenge 2021
  101. STEM News Tip: Space Launch System Tests Resume
  102. STEM News Tip: The Mathematics of a Pandemic
  103. STEM News Tip: Try NASA’s Eyes on for size!
  104. STEM News Tip: AIP Foundation & TEAM-UP Report
  105. Demo Highlight: Free Fall in Vacuum
  106. STEM News Tip: New Comet in the Neighborhood
  107. Demo Highlight: Van de Graaff and Pie Pans
  108. STEM News Tip: Upcoming Virtual Events with UMD Science
  109. Demo Highlight: The Shive Wave Machine with Prof. Peter Shawhan
  110. The Physics of Bats
  111. Demo Highlight: Electromagnet With Bang
  112. STEM News Tip: Webinar Series
  113. STEM News Tip: Sci-Fi Costumes at Air&Space Museum
  114. STEM News Tip: DOE on STEM Careers
  115. Demonstration Highlight: The Egg Crusher
  116. STEM News Tip: Upcoming SPS Virtual Colloquium with Dr. Nicole Gugliucci
  117. STEM News Tip: Physics Comedy at the Maryland STEM Festival
  118. STEM News Tip: Dean Steve Fetter wins APS Leo Szilard Lectureship Award
  119. Demonstration Highlight: Guitar & Oscilloscope
  120. STEM News Tip: 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics Announced
  121. Demo Highlight: Racing Balls 2
  122. STEM News Tip: Maryland STEM Festival 2020
  123. Demonstration Highlight: Fourier Analysis
  124. STEM News Tip: Learning Resources for Nuclear Power
  125. Today in Physics History: Neptune
  126. Highlight: Van de Graaff Generator Animation
  127. STEM News Tip: Exoplanet around a White Dwarf Star
  128. Animation Highlight: Pendulum Waves
  129. STEM News Tip: Quantum Fireside Chat with Nobel Laureate Bill Phillips
  130. Demo Highlight: Laser and Double Slit
  131. STEM News Tip: Phosphine on Venus
  132. STEM News Tip: COVID-19 and the Physics Job Market
  133. Highlight: Radio Waves and Faraday Cage
  134. Remote Teaching Resources
  135. STEM News Tip: New Gravitational Waves Discoveries!
  136. Atwood's Machine: Testing Newton’s Second Law
  137. STEM News Tip: Some new articles in science teaching & information, August 2020
  138. Demonstration Highlight: Masses Dropped and Shot
  139. STEM News Tip: Native American Physics & Astronomy
  140. STEM News Tip: Titan and its Atmosphere on APOD
  141. STEM News Tip: COVID-19 impact on research
  142. The Tablecloth, the Coin, and Other Adventures with Inertia
  143. Quantum Demonstration and Simulation: The Hydrogen Atom
  144. STEM News Tip: New Atmospheric Phenomena Spotted on Venus
  145. STEM News Tip: SPS Virtual Colloquium
  146. Demonstration Highlight: Simple Harmonic Motion & Uniform Circular Motion
  147. STEM News Tip: Meteor Showers and Rain Showers
  148. STEM News Tip: Sonic Tourism
  149. Demonstration Highlight: Electromagnet
  150. STEM News Tip: Mars 2020 launches this week!
  151. STEM News Tip: Nova Reticuli 2020
  152. How many demonstrations?
  153. STEM News Tip: Solar Observer webcast this week!
  154. STEM News Tip: Children Learning About Gears
  155. Space News: The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope
  156. Demo Highlight: Vector Addition
  157. Demonstration Highlight: The Pencil and Plywood Experiment
  158. Demo Highlight: The Ripple Tank and a Ripple Tank Simulator
  159. Demo Highlight: The Racing Balls in Slow Motion
  160. Happy birthday, Alexander Müller
  161. New Demonstration: The Paramagnetism of a Dysprosium Pendulum
  162. Welcome to Spring 2020
  163. Light Up the Night: Neon and "Neon" Lights
  164. A Heated Discussion In Class
  165. The Physics Soda Can Returns: Electrostatic Induction
  166. Physics Teatime 3: Do Not Try This At Home
  167. Introducing Our Newest Center of Mass Demonstration
  168. FLIGHT!
  169. Happy Birthday Carl Sagan
  170. Hot Air Balloon
  171. Upcoming Events at UMD Physics!
  172. Welcome to Fall 2019!
  173. Summer Hiatus
  174. Phun with Electrons: Particle or Wave?
  175. Physics Teatime 2: On The Making Of Tea
  176. On the Choosing of Demonstrations
  177. Teatime in Physics
  178. Happy Birthday to Émilie du Châtelet
  179. Seeing Sound: Vibrations on a Plate
  180. Women Nobel Laureates in Physics
  181. Coming Soon: Physics is Phun presents Induction and Deduction
  182. New Portable Ripple Tank
  183. Irene Joliot-Curie
  184. New Demos: Buoyancy and Electromagnetic Forces
  185. Falling into Free Fall
  186. Happy 100th Birthday Katherine Johnson!
  187. Demonstration Orders for the Fall Semester
  188. Welcome!