Archive for October 23rd, 2008

Candle in an open container spinning in a centrifuge

Candle in an open container spinning in a centrifuge

So here we have a physics puzzle to tease you a little bit. The idea is simple. You put a candle in an open container (let us say a glass, like in the restaurants). You attach the container to a centrifuge, with a long arm, and you make the centrifuge spin at high speeds.


The big question is: what happens?



This is sometimes the flavor of big physics questions. One puts a couple of ingredients together, sometimes in a lab, and sometimes as a theoretical exercise, and one is supposed to come up with a detailed description of what happens. In this problem there are many ingredients, and it is not obvious what is important and what is not. This is what makes these problems fun. This problem was suggested to me by Nick Warner a couple of weeks ago. I thought it would be good to release it with some picture.

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