Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A Physicist’s Take On The Yo-Yo As It Celebrates 75 Years

Date:
February 10, 2004
Source:
Hamilton College
Summary:
2004 marks the 75th anniversary of the Duncan Yo-Yo. To a historian, the yo-yo is the marketing success story of Donald Duncan. To a child (of all ages) it is a challenging toy. "To a physicist, however, a yo-yo is a remarkably fun example of a flywheel," said Gordon Jones, assistant professor of physics at Hamilton College.

2004 marks the 75th anniversary of the Duncan Yo-Yo. To a historian, the yo-yo is the marketing success story of Donald Duncan. To a child (of all ages) it is a challenging toy. "To a physicist, however, a yo-yo is a remarkably fun example of a flywheel," said Gordon Jones, assistant professor of physics at Hamilton College.

Related Articles


“Flywheels, used in numerous things from fuel efficient cars to cutting edge fusion research, are simply ways to store energy in a spinning disk. For such a simple toy, the yo-yo stores energy in spinning motion in a remarkably clever way.”

Jones began thinking about the physics of the yo-yo when his daughter, Charlotte, acquired the toy. He noted, “Yo-yos actually slow down as they near the end of their fall. As the yo-yo approaches the bottom, the wrapped string gets closer and closer to the center of the yo-yo. The result is making the disk spin faster and fall slower as it reaches the end of the string. Rather than wasting energy jerking your finger,” said Jones, “a well designed yo-yo puts almost all of its energy into storage just before it reaches the end of the string. That makes for less finger pain and more time ‘sleeping.’ Many tricks involve manipulating the yo-yo while it appears to sleep. At the end of the trick the yo-yo jumps back onto the hand using the stored energy,” he explained.

The stability of a yo-yo during tricks is due to its angular momentum. This is the same effect that causes footballs, bullets, and the earth to stay pointed in the same direction. “Just as a tight spiral keeps a football from twisting in flight,” Jones said, “the spin of a yo-yo keeps it facing the same direction as it gets flung and flipped. Stability is convenient for snapping the toy back onto your hand at the end of a trick, but it is essential for balancing the yo-yo on its string and other tricks.”

“The yo-yo is a pretty cool toy from a physics point of view,” Jones added. “If I ever teach a mechanics class I will definitely make the students solve for its motion.”

The American yo-yo craze was sparked by a Philippine bellboy named Pedro Flores who attracted crowds with his yo-yo demonstrations. In 1929, Flores’ fledgling company was bought by Donald Duncan who brought the yo-yo into the national spotlight through demonstrations, contests, and a clever marketing collaboration with William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper empire.

Gordon Jones, Assistant Professor of Physics at Hamilton College, earned his master's and doctorate in nuclear physics from Princeton University. His research interests include making polarized gas and using neutrons to examine magnetic materials and the decay of neutrons. Jones' studies contribute to the understanding of time reversal symmetry and weak interactions in nuclei, as well as lung imaging in the medical field. Among his published papers are "Neutron Polarizers Based on Polarized He" in NIMA and "New Limit on the D Coefficient in Polarized Neutron Decay" in the Physical Review C.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Hamilton College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Hamilton College. "A Physicist’s Take On The Yo-Yo As It Celebrates 75 Years." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040210081524.htm>.
Hamilton College. (2004, February 10). A Physicist’s Take On The Yo-Yo As It Celebrates 75 Years. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040210081524.htm
Hamilton College. "A Physicist’s Take On The Yo-Yo As It Celebrates 75 Years." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040210081524.htm (accessed April 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

7-Year-Old Girl Gets 3-D Printed 'robohand'

7-Year-Old Girl Gets 3-D Printed 'robohand'

AP (Mar. 31, 2015) — Although she never had much interest in prosthetic limbs before, Faith Lennox couldn&apos;t wait to slip on her new robohand. The 7-year-old, who lost part of her left arm when she was a baby, grabbed it as soon as it came off a 3-D printer. (March 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dutch Architects Show Off 3D House-Building Prowess

Dutch Architects Show Off 3D House-Building Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — Dutch architects are constructing a 3D-printed canal-side home, which they hope will spark an environmental revolution in the house-building industry. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Plane Stops in China

Solar Plane Stops in China

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — Solar Impulse 2 stops over in China&apos;s Chonqing, completing the fifth leg in its bid to become the first solar powered plane to travel around the globe. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Impulse Lands in China After 20-Hour Flight from Myanmar

Solar Impulse Lands in China After 20-Hour Flight from Myanmar

AFP (Mar. 31, 2015) — Solar Impulse 2 lands in China, the world&apos;s biggest carbon emitter, completing the fifth leg of its landmark global circumnavigation powered solely by the sun. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins