The internet has chosen its new teen sensation! Michael Senatore who is really, really good at flipping and landing a water bottle. Executing the trick shot with a steady eye and hand, Senatore transcended his senior talent show and has become a very specific brand of internet famous. He is Vince Carter at the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest; he is Tiger Woods slamming a hole in one at the Phoenix Open. He’s a champion akin to that little girl who is also really good at trick shots.
Senatore — a student at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, North, Carolina — also got a helping hand from physics to make the trick work.
How did he do it? Fittingly, it all comes back to high school physics. The flip of the bottle is dependent on the mass of the object, the speed of rotation, and the distance from its center of gravity. As the bottle is flipped, there’s a change in the center of gravity, which leads in a change in the distribution of the water — this is what affects the rotation of the bottle.
This rotational change is the moment of inertia for the water bottle and its liquid. This rotational inertia works off the axis of rotation and mathematically the mass times the square of the perpendicular distance to the rotation of the axis. The water rotating in the bottle is affected by torque and angular acceleration to stick the landing.
That goes to say that if you want to land a shot like Senatore, you need to understand the relationship between the weight of the bottle and how much water is in there. This is pretty instinctual — more water, heavier bottle, less flip. Your throw is the force that serves as the catalyst for the whole process.
We’re pretty sure you can get it. The Inverse crew is already putting our scientific knowledge to task and getting ready for our viral video fame.