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Q & A: Spinning Tops: Angular Momentum

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Do taller tops spin faster or slower than a shorter one?
- Anonymous (age 21)
U.S.A
A:
That all depends on what you assume is the same for the two tops. For example, if two tops, one short and one tall, are made of the same material, and given the same spinning energy, the taller top will spin slower than the shorter top. That's because the taller one would need more energy to spin at the same rate as the shorter one.
If you are spinning the tops by hand, it will depend on things like how good a grip you can get on the tops with your fingers. Unfortunately, we can't figure that out from simple physics.

(published on 10/22/2007)

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