The Office Olympics – The Science of Office Chair Spinning

There is science behind the tucks, spins, jumps and throws in the Olympics.

Power walking is now an Olympic event, so why not spinning? I’m already dizzy and we’ve barely begun.

If you need to bring more Olympics in your life, pull out the office chair, start doing a little science and compete in the Office Olympics.

There is a science to spinning the fastest in an office chair spin-off. To win the gold, you must understand a little about inertia, mass and velocity.

Hold your arms out while spinning on the office chair and you will keep your balance, but pull them into your body, and you’ll spin faster. By bringing the arms in, you change your angular velocity.

Ready for a few scientific definitions?

In simple terms, inertia is the tendency for an object to resist a change in its motion.

Mass is how much stuff is in an object. It gets confused with weight – but weight is the force of gravity on the object. An object like a rock may weigh differently on the earth than it does on the moon, but it’s mass is the same no matter where it is found. Mass is also a numerical measurement of its inertia.

Velocity is the rate at which an object changes its position, or its speed. Angular velocity is speed in a circular motion. Linear velocity is speed in a straight line.

Change your mass by holding a few cans of food or weights. Now spin with your arms out and then bring them back in.

The mass can also affect angular velocity. The mass held out at arms’ length will slow down an object’s angular velocity, but bring the mass into the center of gravity, and that object will spin even faster.

Are you ready to go for the gold? Go grab an office chair, some co-workers and a few lightweights. Just don’t share your science secret until after the competition.

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