(Introduction Scene, beeping) (Game Theory Intro Theme) Hello internet. Welcome to Game Theory. Where, shoutout to the true first comment on the “We Broke Youtube” Game Theory, The Nyan Robot Thanks Nyan Robot for ringing that subscription bell and being a part of the notification squad. That’s something I’m looking to do more regularly on the channel by the way, make those first comments count, and shoutout you guys who are the first commers every week to the show. Caz you know what, you guys rock.
Thank you so much for supporting the channel over all these years. ANYWAY, onward to today’s episode, which is gonna make you flip! Or at the very least give you the secret hacks that you need to become the mic-dropping finale at your school’s talent show. But in all seriousness, of all the trends to hit big in 2016, bottle flipping was perhaps the most surprising. Sure, we expect the collective mind of the internet to dredge up long forgotten childhood shows ironically appreciate terrible movies, recreate popular dance moves, or latch on to trending news stories; but flipping bottles of water so that they can land correctly? …that was the big thing of 2016? I mean, I act like it’s surprising, but when you really stop to think about it it’s massive popularity makes a lot of sense. it’s something literally anyone can do, watch, and appreciate. You see it happen and you understand it regardless of how old you are or what language you speak.
It’s a game anyone can play for free, and when you get really good and practice a lot …or just have the magic of editing and cut to your best of 100 takes, you can do some really impressive stuff. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar, here’s the skinny. Bottle flipping entails taking a bottle and tossing it so that it twirls through the air like a gymnast, and sticks a 10/10 landing. IGN, “Would Flip Again.” and…that’s it! Triple A game companies, take note. THIS is the type of game that people want to play these days. Now, despite what “Know Your Meme” might say the origins go back as far as 2007, to a video released by a skateboarder named Ben Daleman, but it was this video I alluded to earlier. Michael Senatore’s epic flip during his school talent show last year that really caused people to flip out over the flip. From there it was a short trip off to the land of the YouTubers with everyone from Ryan Higa, Dude Perfect, and fernanfloo, giving this trend the viral fire that it needed.
But then, why am I talking about this on Game Theory? Well, because it is a game. It’s the ultimate mobile game, and also honestly it’s because a lot of you have been eagerly asking for a more science heavy episode, and let me tell you, for as elegantly simple as bottle flipping might be, scientifically, it’s a completely different story. Involving everything from elasticity of collisions, to fluid dynamics, to momentum, to laws of gravity. And if you understand that science, you’ll actually have an unfair advantage in your next bottle flipping tournament, or at your next school talent show, or your next visit to grandma’s house, or whenever you want to flip a bottle to impress people.
Might I recommend your first date? And sure, I get it yeah, you probably don’t want to do it anymore anyways since you’ve moved on to the next viral bottle-based trend. like pulling dollar bills out from under bottles. WHATEVER, OKAY, I know this episode is an old trend, but DAMMIT these things take time to research! So here it is: The Scientific Cheat Code That’ll Get You the Upper Hand in the World of Bottle Ballistics, so before you start pitching your old plastic around, your flip can either be made or lost by the very first choice that you make, the bottle.
Think about it, there are hundreds if not thousands of different brands of bottled water on the market. And almost all of them have different bottle shapes, heights, even thicknesses of plastic. And picking the right one can make the difference between becoming a flipping champ, or a flipping chump. So if you think of bottle flipping as a video game, then think of your choice of bottle as the difficulty slider. The typical bottle most people are using, rounded bottle, thin plastic, like Poland Springs, those are effectively the normal setting.
Not too hard, not to easy, just a good sweet spot to judge other bottles. But what in particular makes this one the ideal, “middle of the road,” candidate? Well, let’s take two other bottles and it’ll all become clear. A water cooler jug, and a bottle of Diet Coke, because, let’s be honest, I have a problem. Now, the Diet Coke bottle is the bottle flipping equivalent of hard mode, and the reason for that is surface area.
Notice that the bottom isn’t round like the other two, but rather has multiple prongs. Now, under normal usage, that’s a great shape. It gives the bottle added stability. In fact, as someone who has an unhealthy addiction to soda, and by proxy, a lot of useless knowledge about the history of soda, I can tell you, in the early days of 2L bottles they needed an extra black cap at the base of the bottle to maintain the bottle’s ability to stand up that system existed until it became difficult to recycle the two separate plastic pieces, and a new process had to be designed, these pronged bottles. Man, Diet Coke, you truly are a work of art. Yeah, yeah, all you other sodas who have the exact same bottle you’re fine too, but Diet Coke, beautiful. Both inside, and out. For normal use anyway, when flipping bottles, it is a completely different story. You see, in physics, the energy of being in motion is called kinetic energy, and the word elasticity is a measure of how much kinetic energy remains as kinetic energy after two objects combine.
To give you an example, let’s look at anime. In a scene that, now that I watch it over again, I should really be covering on Film Theory. I mean, look at his face collapse in. There is so much science that I could cover in that thing. Anyway, Goku punches Krillin in the face. Goku’s fist has a bunch of kinetic, or movement energy. That then gets transferred into Krillin’s face and body launching him off for miles. So, one would say that the elasticity of that collision of fist to face is really high. The kinetic energy of Goku’s fist stays as movement energy as Krillin flies through the air. Seriously, though, the more times I watch this scene over and over, the more I realize I need to cover that over on Film Theory. Making a note right now. So that’s an elastic collision. The more classic, and boring example that you’ve probably heard in school, are two pool balls hitting each other. Alternatively, there are inelastic collisions, where the kinetic energy is transformed into deforming the material, or where energy is lost in other ways, like heat and sound. The Goku punch example isn’t perfectly elastic because some of his punch energy is lost deforming Krillin’s face.
Look at that, that has got to hurt. If Krillin has one superpower, outside of destructo disks, which are really cool, it’s the fact that he is like a human punching bag. He takes punishment for days. A good example of an inelastic collision is two balls of clay thrown together. They stick, there is no bounce, all the kinetic energy of the two balls moving is lost as they deform into one larger ball. Now, knowing all that, look at our bottle flip. It’s plastic hitting a table, so the collision would be mostly elastic, like the pool balls, where the kinetic energy of the bottle falling is preserved. In fact, we measured, and it’s a force of about 50 Newtons. That in and of itself isn’t too much, but the table isn’t gonna move. Right? So that movement energy has to go somewhere and that’s back into the bottle. Which is causing it to bounce. The plastic of the bottle compresses ever so slightly, and then springs back into position, just like an actual spring, causing it to rebound from the table and potentially costing you your glorious moment at the talent show, and the subsequent tour around the talk show circuit.
And I was SO close to you, Jimmy Fallon! ONE DAY… ….ONE DAY…. Now, 50 Newtons isn’t gonna cause a whole lot of bounce when it’s spread out over a wide surface, like, say the rounded bottom of your average water bottle. But the prongs? That force gets moved to the very small area that’s actually hitting the table. Causing the bottle rebound higher and thus making it harder to get that perfect landing. On the other end of the spectrum are the large jugs of water. While YouTube channels might try to make this seem like it’s super impressive that they’ve just landing these flips, that these are THE MOST EXTREME FLIPS OUT THERE! They’re just wrong, or lying to you. More click bait. These things are flipping easy mode.
Part of it is the huge surface area of the base, but to see why these are the clear choice for any flipping noobs we need to talk about the other elephant in the room, finding the perfect water level. Empty water bottles weigh practically nothing. My pro-level flip bottle weighs in at a mere 17 grams, and if you have an empty water bottle just sitting on the table, its center of mass, which is, basically the point on the bottle where all the mass averages out, is right around the middle. But water is a lot heavier than plastic, and when you put something that’s significantly more massive, like water into a bottle, the center of mass is gonna move. In this case it moves downward. There’s more mass on the bottom of the bottle than on the top, and thus the place where the mass averages out is gonna end up a lower.
Now, why is that important? Because the center of mass sometimes goes by another name, the center of gravity, and gravity, as the biggest thing standing between you and that perfect bottle flip, pulls from the center of gravity. So the lower the center of gravity is the less likely that bottle is gonna tip over when you flip it. Think about it this way: and Edward, huge clap and a half to you to be demonstrating visually how this all works, because this is the sort of thing that, sure I can explain it the best I can but it really helps to see it, so, A+ on the visuals, even though I’m recording this before the visuals are done, so, don’t screw it up Edward. Don’t do it. Don’t you screw it up Edward! (dramatic music) If you do, no one will understand this concept and the entire episode is ruined.
…the pressure is on… (music stops, unenthusiastic clapping) Think about it this way: When the center of mass is lowered and you, say, tip the bottle to the left, the center of gravity of the bottle is hovering over the right side. This means that the Earth is pulling on the right side of the bottle, which makes it want to stand back up instead of falling over. Thus, allowing you to walk off the high school stage head held high. But if you overfill the bottle with water now the center of gravity is much higher, the point at which all the mass has averaged out has crept back upwards. When that happens and it’s tipped to the left the center of mass is now to the left of the tipping point, and gravity will pull the bottle down, causing it to fall, and causing you to take the walk of shame for the rest of tenth grade, or move to another school district.
This is why getting just the right amount of water is tricky and essential. You need to put in enough water in the bottle so that the center of mass goes about as far down as it can get without inadvertently allowing that center of gravity to creep back upwards by overfilling. And yeah, yeah, I know the comments are already rolling in from you General Relativity fanboys – just chill out, everything is coming up Isaac Newton today. You’ll have your relativity episodes, I promise. In fact, if I remember right I think that the first ever episode of Game Theory touched on relativity topics, so, there you go.
#AnAppleADayGives NewtonTheRespectThatHeDeserves So mathematically the ideal sweet spot is gonna be filling up that bottle to the one-third mark. It’s there that the center of mass is gonna be about as low as it can go. Now, obviously all bottles are different, but for a surefire technique, eyeball the one-third location and try to tip your bottle over at a 45 degree angle and then let it go. If it falls back upright, conglatureations, you did it. If it falls over that means your center of mass is too high, so start chuggin some water.
Those wide, short squat, water cooler bottles are the easiest ones to flip because they’re the ones where keeping the center of gravity low is a cinch. Just look at the jugs in this video … (music) …the WATER jugs in this Dude Perfect video. I mean… Jeez! Grow up this is a family-friendly show. Anyway, those jugs are barely filled, and that’s because it doesn’t take a lot of water to weigh these puppies down, getting their center of mass low. And it’s gonna be really hard to fill it so high that your center of gravity is gonna result in you tipping it over. These jugs are just super stable. Now obviously you’re not gonna shove a water cooler jug in your backpack to pull out during lunch hour bottle flipping tournaments. Win a Cheesy Dipper from Steve, right. So what bottle do you choose? Well, in between these jugs and our standard round-bottomed ones is everything from SmartWater to Fiji water. Each with its own various pros and cons. SmartWater’s tall, narrow shape is gonna make it really hard to find that sweet spot and water line.
Fiji water, being made from a firmer plastic and with a wider base, is definitely gonna be easier than a typical bottle; just be careful of finding the water level since it’s so short. The fact that it’s short is gonna mean that you’re gonna have to be a lot more precise in your water level measurements. And lastly: the throw. Now, before we talk about bottles, let’s talk hammers. Grab a hammer and toss it in the air! Eh, actually, no.
If you were on your way to the garage right now STOP, come on back. …come back please, hopefully, hopefully you’re still listening to me. It’s dangerous and you’ll put a hole in the floor. Instead, let’s visit history’s most famous hammer tossers, The Hammer Bros. Notice how the hammer twirls all lopsided before finally landing? Well, it’s because of our old friend, center of mass. Objects in free fall that have any rotation will always rotate around their center of mass. Hammers, which traditionally have wooden handles and steel heads, have a hugely lopsided center of mass and and rotate around that. But the cool part is, for as chaotic as that movement looks, if you trace the trajectory of the center of mass it will always, always follow a perfect arc.
I mean, look at any Mario game. Even though the handle’s moving everywhere the hammer head is consistently falling in an arc. Well done, Nintendo, way to pay attention to the laws of physics. Except, I guess, for an Italian plumber being able to launch himself hundreds of feet into the air… Soo… Well done picking and choosing your physics battles? I guess? Anyway, trust me, I’m not just saying this based on a video game in real life tossing hammers acts the same way. Toss a hammer safely and outside please and you’ll see the exact same thing happen.
Or, better yet, watch a video on YouTube; I’m sure one exists. Here, here’s one right here. Literally anything you want is on YouTube. But here’s the thing, for as complicated as throwing a hammer may look a water bottle is even more complicated because fluid dynamics are involved. Which, let’s be honest here, is a sentence I included to make you sound smart when you mention it to your friends. Because fluid dynamics, for as impressive and complicated as it sounds, is really just another word for the movement of liquid.
Fluid being dynamic. Makes sense, right? Anyway, when you flip the bottle into the air, the center of mass is shifting as the mass of the water moves around in the bottle. As it does this, the water robs the bottle of angular momentum, or spin. This becomes most dramatic just after the bottle flips, when the water sloshes around and goes from being in the bottom of the bottle to the top. It adjust to gravity, which simultaneously helps push the bottle down, allowing for that signature straight-up landing. How this knowledge helps you is that most newbie bottle flippers include too much horizontal velocity.
You’re throwing the bottle too far forward. Notice Michael’s toss, both at the talent show, and on Stephen Colbert. It barely moves forward. You see, if the bottle is moving forward too fast when it lands, the bottle’s movement is suddenly stopped, but the water inside the bottle still wants to move forward. And it does, which takes all the mass with it. So instead of acting like a stabilizing force inside the bottle, the water actually helps knock the bottle over. The key here is to try to use as much force upward while also putting that spin on the bottle.
The best way to do this is to make sure the bottle is parallel with the ground when you release it. This sends the center of mass straight upward, and since you’re holding onto the other end, the bottle with naturally rotate as you let go. So, there you have it, the steps to a prefect flip. Choose a bottle with a firmer plastic and a wide base like a Fiji bottle, fill that bottle to about a third full, double-checking the exact level by doing that 45 degree fall test to measure where the center of gravity is at, and then practice your toss so that you release it in parallel with the ground, and try to minimize its forward momentum. But if you want even more of an edge, consider swapping out the water in the bottle for Mercury. As the heaviest liquid at room temperature, that should lower the center of mass to amazing depths while still maintaining all the benefits of fluid dynamics. Just, uh, you know, fair warning, don’t, don’t drink it, or touch it for that matter, or do anything with it really because it’s toxic.
Like, deadly levels of toxic. Huh, between Mercury and hammer tossing today has been filled with bad ideas. Who would have expected that bottle flipping is the deadliest game? But hey… That’s just a theory… A Game Theory! Thanks for watching. But before you go, if you’d like to see me take on the ultimate bottle flip challenge then click right here to see our episode of GT live. Winner gets the glory, loser gets the exploding soda to the face.
Seriously, click there to find out if all of the techniques we’ve talked about in this episode helped me to stay dry. Or, click right here to watch something else that has been algorithmicly selected to be the best video for your watch session. That’s no joke, that is literally a tool that YouTube has and that I’m testing out in that box to the right.
As found on Youtube