During our unit on momentum, we found this 2016 video from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
In addition to this video, we found this Harvard physics problem of the week, written by David Morin, dealing with Galilean Cannons.
Seeing this video clip along with Morin's solution to the problem, we ran some numbers and determined that we could break the world record! So, we sent in an application on January 22nd, 2018 to Guinness World Records to attempt breaking this record.
We first attempted (and succeeded using our own measurements) to break the 9 m record using a stack of balls like the one you can see in this video by Diana Cowern, the physics girl.
While we were able to break the record with this set up, it was much harder to get just right. In our cannon below, you can see that we used a roll of tape to keep the middle ball from rolling around. Even with this addition, the stack was still pretty unstable!
Since this version of the ball was too unruly, we decided to fall back on plan B which was to use a Galilean Cannon kit known as the "Astroblaster".
In preparation for the attempt, we first had to secure the services of a surveyor along with two independent witnesses.
My father-in-law was able to put me in contact with Sam Harris, a local surveyor who graciously volunteered his time to this project. He came out to Hillcrest on two separate occasions to ensure that he had a deep understanding of what we were trying to accomplish. On the day of the launch he gave us 2.5 hours of his time and expertise!
Guinness required that our attempt be done in the presence of two independent witnesses. I am so thankful for the time that Dr. Brian Vogt from the Bob Jones University Science Department, and Mr. Rick Dove, a local financial services professional, gave in observing and verifying our event!
Breaking the record is one thing, getting the perfect shot that proves your broke the record is another.
While the surveryor and witnesses were measuring the student-made tape measure, my class and I began to practice our launch. We were blessed to have Kyle Gutschow, my brother-in-law, and his cousin Brian Smith operate their camera equipment for us. Kyle is very talented amateur photographer and Brian is skilled at capturing drone footage.
Once all the measurements were taken, the tape put in place, and the photographers ready, it was time to begin attempting to break the record. A student or I would stand on a small ladder and drop our cannon until we both broke the record of 9 meters and were able to capture photographic and video evidence. Dozens of drops can get very frustrating! Check out what a typical drop looked like along with what can happen to your head if you are the "dropper".
The new record
At last, after attempting many drops for nearly an hour, we finally got the perfect one! Take a look at the footage below! The red line on the tape measure was the current world record at the time.
This video shows what the record-setting drop looked like. It is almost impossible to see the ball.
You can see the ball around the 30 second mark in the video below.
In the next video, you can see how quickly the ball is moving. It appears near the dead center of the pole around the 2 second mark. It looks like a blur.
The following video shows the slow motion footage. You can see the ball at the red line around the 17 second mark.
We did it! From the video, you can clearly see the ball rise above and beyond our highest tape measurement. We can only claim our highest measurement as the new record, so the new record for the highest launch from a Galilean Cannon is. . .
Set by the 2017-18 AP Physics Class at Hillcrest High School in Simpsonville, SC
Created with images by Kyle Gregory Devaras - "stars in the sky" • arielrobin - "measure yardstick tape ruler measure measure measure" • Slava Keyzman - "Sky Ball"